Pilot Dies on Test Flight
EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. (AP) _ A test pilot who died after ejecting from his crippled F-16 fighter over the Gulf of Mexico had been checking out the jet following modifications, an Eglin spokesman says.
Capt. Lawrence E. Lee, 31, of Kokomo, Ind., was pronounced dead at Eglin’s hospital Wednesday after he was rescued from the Gulf by a helicopter.
The plane had been modified to fly weapons testing missions for the Eglin- based Air Force Armament Division, which is responsible for developing and testing non-nuclear bombs, missiles and guns.
Those modifications had just been removed so the jet could be returned to the Tactical Air Command. Lee, a pilot for the 3247th Test Squadron, was on a flight that Lt. Col. Bill Campbell described as being ″like a test drive″ to make sure the jet performed properly before it was to be transferred.
Eglin spokeswoman Capt. Pat Engelhardt said the pilot’s wife, Maj. Terri Lee, also is an Air Force officer and serves with Eglin’s 33rd Component Repair Squadron.
A panel of officers will attempt to determine what went wrong, but Campbell said there were no signs of wreckage on the surface of the Gulf.