On Wednesday, the Air Force confirmed that three airmen were killed during a training crash in New Mexico near a small airport in the eastern part of the state on Tuesday evening. The Air Force reported that the three airmen, who were assigned to the 318th Special Operations Squadron of the 27th Special Operations Wing at Cannon Air Force Base, were killed while flying their U-28A tactical airborne intelligence plane. On Thursday, the Air Force released the identities of the victims.
Captain Andrew Becker was a 33-year-old pilot from Novi, Michigan. He is survived by his spouse, mother, and father. Captain Kenneth Dalga was a 29-year-old combat systems officer from Goldsboro, North Carolina. He is survived by his spouse, son, and mother. First Lieutenant Frederick Dellecker was a 26-year-old co-pilot from Daytona Beach, Florida. He is survived by his mother and father. All three men were with the 318th Special Operations Squadron.
On Wednesday, Col. Ben Maitre, the installation commander at Cannon AFB released a statement.
“We are deeply saddened by this loss within our Air Commando family,” he said. “Our sympathies are with the loved ones and friends affected by this tragedy, and our team is focused on supporting them during this difficult time.”
The director of the Clovis Municipal Airport located a half mile away from where the plane went down, Kyle Berkshire, said that the plane performed “touch and goes,” which are practice maneuvers where the airplane will touch the runway but not stop. Berkshire added that the aircraft was partially intact and the wreckage area was between 50 and 100 feet.
According to the Air Force, the U-28A’s mission is to “provide a manned fixed wing, on-call/surge capability for improved tactical airborne intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) in support of special operations forces.”
The U-28A is part of the Air Force Special Operations Command’s Non-Standard Aircraft and is operated by the 319th, 34th, and 318th Special Operations squadrons. Training is conducted at Hurlburt Field in Florida as well as Cannon AFB.