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Supersonic jet crashes near MS Air Force base

An Air Force pilot conducts pre-flight checks in a T-38 Talon at Columbus Air Force Base, Mississippi. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Davis Donaldson)
November 08, 2022

A supersonic jet crashed near its home base in Mississippi during a training exercise Monday afternoon, killing no one but sending the pilot, who ejected from the aircraft, to the hospital for evaluation. 

The T-38A Talon jet trainer crashed at about 1 p.m. about 20 miles south of Columbus Air Force Base, a public affairs specialist for the base told the Associated Press.

The crash is still being investigated, but a statement from the base said the jet had “an in-flight emergency,” AP reported. 

Columbus Air Force Base is home to the 14th Flying Training Wing, which makes an average of 260 flights per day, according to AP. The two-seater T-38 jet is primarily used to prepare undergraduate pilots for service in front-line fighters and bombers, according to the Air Force.

The vice commander of the 14th Flying Training Wing, Col. Jeremy Bergin, said “we continuously train our pilots to react appropriately for all emergency situations such as the incident that occurred today.” 

“We’re thankful the pilot ejected safely, and we appreciate the continued support of the Columbus community and our community partners,” he added.

Among the oldest planes still used by the Air Force, the T-38 Talon has been no stranger to crashes in recent years. In the past five years, those crashes have been mainly attributed to pilot error, Air & Space Forces Magazine reported.

Two pilots from the 14th Flying Training Wing died in a T-38C Talon crash last year that was attributed to disorientation and pilot error, reported. The day prior, both passengers survived a T-38A crash after the landing gear was raised too early during takeoff, Air Force Times reported.

In 2018, one pilot died and another was injured in a T-38 Talon crash at Laughlin Air Force Base in Del Rio, Texas. At the time, it was the fifth crash in 12 months.

The T-38, produced by the Northrop Corporation, was first flown in 1959, according to the Air Force. The branch bought more than 1,100 of them before production ended in 1972.

Several versions of the aircraft exist. The T-38A version has no armaments, while the T-38C has an electronic system to simulate bomb drops. The AT-38B has a gun sight and practice bomb dispenser, according to the Air Force.