1/21/2004 - LANGLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Va. (AFPN) -- Pilot error caused a U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds F-16 aircraft to crash shortly after takeoff at an airshow Sept. 14 at Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho. The pilot ejected just before the aircraft hit the ground.
According to the accident investigation board report released Jan. 21, the pilot misinterpreted the altitude required to complete the "Split S" maneuver. He made his calculation with an incorrect airfield altitude. The pilot incorrectly climbed to 1,670 feet above ground level instead of 2,500 feet before initiating the pull down to the Split S maneuver.
When he realized something was wrong, the pilot used maximum back stick pressure and rolled slightly left to ensure the aircraft would hit away from the crowd should he have to eject. He ejected when the aircraft was 140 feet above ground -- just eight-tenths of a second before impact. He sustained only minor injuries from the ejection. The aircraft, valued at about $20.4 million, was destroyed. There was no other damage to military or civilian property.
Also, the board determined other factors substantially contributed to creating the opportunity for the error including the requirement for demonstration pilots to convert mean sea level and above ground level altitudes, and performing a maneuver with a limited margin of error. (Courtesy of Air Combat Command News Service
(sorry about the fist message)....I was there for that crash! The first thing I thought was “I just watch that man die.” If you go to ktvb.com (which was the news crew at the airshow) you can watch it from their camera, and there are about 30 photos
Here's the story on that big photo up top, from the guy who shot it:
[ QUOTE ]
I have noticed all over the internet the shot I had taken of the Thunderbird crash at Mountain Home AFB, ID and though I am not at liberty to share the photo; it is out there. I would like to end some speculation and let you know the photo is real. I'm a Still Photographer for the USAF and I was stationed at MHAFB during the air show. I was on the catwalk of the tower at Mtn Home along with another photog (video) and about seven other (military) spectators. I have shot the T-birds from the tower before and I was pretty excited to do it again (the sky was perfect blue). I followed Thunderbird 6 from takeoff and watched as he pulled into his maneuver. I then noticed something seemed to be wrong, his direction was a little off; he was pulling out and heading right towards the tower. At this point I figured two things: 1. He's either going to fly past this tower and we'll feel the heat or 2. This is going to be ugly... I waited for the aircraft to level and clicked the shutter, what I saw through the lens will never go away... At the same time as I shot I seen a flash of light and horrific sound. I was shooting on high speed continuous and the next couple frames were a ball of fire and my feet, right before I ran. We all ran to the other side of the tower, I tired to get everyone in along with my partner and finally made it in myself. By the time we got inside the 16 had stopped sliding and rested about 100 ft in front of the tower. I then continued documenting the work of our base firefighters as they put out the flames. It was an experience and though I can't officially make any comments to the matter, I would like to say Capt Stricklin saved lives...enough said.
For those who are wondering the image is not cleared for public release.
Also for those fellow photogs I was shooting with a D1x with a 300mm, 2.8 @ 1000 and 2000
SSgt Bennie J. Davis III
Still Photographer, USAF