Report: Bird collision caused Air Force jet over Mississippi skies to crash, pilot to eject last November

Published 4:10 pm Friday, July 28, 2023

A collision with a bird during a training mission brought down a US Air Force jet in Mississippi last November, according to an Air Force report.

According to the Air Force Times, the incident forced the pilot instructor with the 49th Fighter Training Squadron at Mississippi’s Columbus Air Force Base to eject. The airman sustained minor injuries after landing in a tree.

The T-38C Talon jet crashed approximately 22 miles south of the Columbus Air Force Base. The jet, valued at $8.5 million, was destroyed.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

According to the final report released on July 18, a “large” bird slammed into the pilot’s cockpit just minutes after the pilot and another jet took off from the base. After pieces of the plane’s windshield were ingested into both of the aircraft’s engines, one failed, and the other lacked enough thrust to keep the jet stable and aloft.

Unable to control the plane, the pilot ejected.

The report described the incident as “unavoidable” and handled well by the experienced pilot.

According to the Air Force Safety Center, bird strikes typically cause several dozen aircraft mishaps each year. Most bird strikes don not lead to heavy damage or death.

The report from the investigation indicates that Columbus Air Force Base was following regular bird strike prevention and awareness protocols at the time of the mishap, and the pilot knew the risk that birds posed to his jet, according to the Air Force Times.