USAF B-1 Test Pilot dies after crashing in his personally owned aircraft

(U.S. Air Force photo)


An Air Force pilot is dead after the small aircraft he was piloting crashed near San Antonio, Texas, Jan. 25.

Maj. Lee Berra, 32, a B-1 Test Pilot with the 419th FLTS, was flying a single-engine Cirrus SR22 from San Antonio International Airport to Stinson Municipal Airport in San Antonio, when his aircraft went down at approximately 3:45 p.m. He was the sole occupant of the aircraft, according to news reports.

Berra had been temporarily assigned to the 12th Flying Training Wing at Joint Base San Antonio for pilot instructor training.

Berra was in the third week of a 14-week T-38C Pilot Instructor Training Course, according to Edwards AFB Public Affairs.

Berra held a private pilot license and used his personal aircraft for transportation to the training location. He was also a licensed commercial pilot.

During his 10-year career, Berra flew 2,599 total military flight hours in 30 different aircraft, with 2,270 in the supersonic B-1 Lancer. From 2010 through 2015 Berra was assigned as a B-1 pilot at Ellsworth Air Force Base, South Dakota. He was reassigned to Edwards Air Force Base to attend the U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School, where he graduated with Class 15B in June of 2016.

Louis Everett has been flying for 25 years and teaches at Stinson’s flight school. At the time of the crash, he was in the air with a student, reports.

“The closer we got to the Stinson airport I noticed the emergency vehicles off to the side of the airport, there on the river front,” said Everett.

Everett didn’t think it could be a plane crash, but then he saw the wreckage and how close it was to the runway.

“As we got closer I could just tell that it was bad, so my first thought was what happened and is anyone alive,” said Everett.

The plane Berra was flying was registered to him along with a co-owner Sydney Berra. In a statement from Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph the spokesman said,  “Our nation’s military pilots are extraordinary people and we grieve with the pilot’s loved ones,” reports.

Maj. Berra is survived by his wife and parents.

The cause of the crash is under investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board.

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  • Jim Verchio is a staff writer for Popular Military. As a retired Air Force Public Affairs craftsman, Jim has served at all levels. From staff writer to Editor-In-Chief, he has more than 30 years experience covering military topics in print and broadcast from the CONUS to Afghanistan. He is also a two time recipient of the DoD’s prestigious Thomas Jefferson Award for journalism excellence.

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