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Vance Air Force Base releases names of two pilots killed in Thursday ‘mishap’

Vance Air Force Base (U.S. Air Force/Released)
November 23, 2019

The Air Force has released the names of two airmen killed in a training “mishap” involving two T-38 Talon aircraft Thursday morning, Nov. 22, 2019.

The mishap, which occurred at approximately 9:10 a.m., claimed the lives of Lt. Col. John “Matt” Kincade, 47, an instructor pilot assigned to the 5th Flying Training Squadron, survived by his wife and two sons, and 2nd Lt. Travis B. Wilkie, 23, a student pilot assigned to the 71st Student Squadron, survived by his wife, parents and sister.

Two airmen in the second aircraft were not injured in the incident, Vance public affairs said Thursday. Additional names were not released Friday.

Col. Corey Simmons, commander of the 71st Flying Training Wing at Vance, said during a Thursday afternoon press conference the two aircraft were on a formation training flight and were in the landing phase of the mission when the mishap occurred.

One of the two aircraft, a T-38C Talon, ended up inverted. The other plane was able to land, and its aircrew were uninjured. Simmons said during the press conference both aircraft came to rest “off the runway.”

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Simmons declined Thursday to answer questions about specifics of the mishap, deferring to the Air Force mishap investigation already underway. Additional details will be provided as information becomes available.

“These things take time,” Simmons said, “and I’m not going to guess at what happened.”

Flight operations at Vance remained halted Friday. Simmons said Thursday he would make a decision over the weekend about when training flights will resume.

“For me, it’s all about the integrity of the safety investigation,” Simmons said.

Simmons said Thursday he stands by the safety record at Vance, which hadn’t suffered a training death since 2000. The base flies about 225 missions per day, and its runways see 800-1,000 landings per day, Simmons said.

The T-38 Talon is a “twin-engine, high-altitude, supersonic jet trainer used in a variety of roles because of its design, economy of operations, ease of maintenance, high performance and exceptional safety record,” according to an Air Force fact sheet.

The Talon is used by Air Education and Training Command for specialized undergraduate pilot and pilot instructor training, according to the Air Force. Student pilots at Vance have flown T-38’s since December 1963. Students in the fighter/bomber track fly the Talon.

The Air Force has ordered a replacement for the aging T-38, the T-7A Red Hawk, set to replace the T-38C starting in 2023.

“We are a close-knit family,” Simmons said in a released statement, “and when tragedies like this occur, every member of the U.S. military, Vance, Enid, feels it.”

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© 2019 the Enid News & Eagle