T-38 crashes at Laughlin, but no word of pilots’ fate

November 14, 2018

A training jet crashed Tuesday evening at Laughlin AFB in Del Rio, the Air Force said.

A spokesman at the base declined to discuss the fate of the pilots or say whether there were two aviators aboard the T-38C Talon, or one. Typically, there are two, an instructor and student.

The twin-seat supersonic jet crashed at about 7:40 p.m., with emergency personnel arriving on the scene “quickly afterwards,” said the spokesman, 1st Lt. Mickel McGann.

The Val Verde County Sheriff’s Office said the incident occurred on the base.

It was the second crash at Laughlin in less than a year involving the Talon, which is one of the oldest jets in the Air Force fleet. A T-38 crashed Nov. 20, 2017 after a total hydraulic failure near Lake Amistad outside Del Rio. One pilot ejected with minor injuries. Capt. Paul J. Barbour, 32, of Van Nuys, Calif., was killed because he forgot to arm his ejection seat and became trapped in the cockpit when the plane plunged to the ground.

Laughlin is one of four Air Education and Training Command undergraduate pilot training bases where novices learn to fly. It is home to 3,000 airmen and civilians.

It was one of two T-38 jet crashes in the 2018 fiscal year, which ended Oct. 1, including a crash last August during a training mission out of Vance AFB in Enid, Oklahoma, in which the single pilot on board safely ejected. There were no Talon crashes from 2014 to 2017.


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