Italian Pilot, American Student Killed in Air Force Training Jet Crash
WICHITA FALLS, Texas (AP) _ A military jet crashed and burst into flames at Sheppard Air Force Base Monday, killing a student pilot and an Italian NATO instructor, officials said.
The Air Force T-38 trainer jet crashed while attempting to land on a base runway, said Sgt. Wes Ticer, a base spokesman.
Killed were 2nd Lt. Michael Higley, 26, of Big Horn, Wyo., and Italian Air Force Maj. Domenico Orlando, 33, said Maj. Dick McNally. He did not know where Orlando lived.
Orlando was an instructor pilot in the Euro-NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training program, Ticer said. Instructors and students from 12 NATO countries train at Sheppard as part of an international exchange program, he said.
The two were practicing takeoffs and landings at the time of the crash, McNally said.
A panel of Air Force officers was expected to arrive early Tuesday to begin a formal investigation, he said.
″No one knows what happened out there,″ Ticer said. ″There are pieces of airplane thrown a pretty good distance so I think it will take some time to put the investigation together.″
Authorities said there was no evidence the men attempted to eject from the aircraft.
Skies in Wichita Falls were clear and sunny at the time of the accident, said base spokeswoman Lt. Karla Bickley.