On Friday, two pilots flying a training mission were killed when their military jet crashed near Montgomery Regional Airport.
The U.S. Air Force confirmed that a two-seat T-38 jet went down around 5 p.m. near Dannelly Field in Montgomery, Alabama. Officials said the jet was assigned to the 14th Flying Training Wing based out of Columbus Air Force Base in Mississippi. Additionally, the Alabama Air National Guard also maintains a base at the location.
The two pilots in the aircraft included a U.S. Air Force instructor pilot and a Japanese air force officer. On Saturday, Japan’s Air Self-Defense Force confirmed the military plane crash and the two pilots’ death. Their names have not been released to the public yet.
The Japanese second lieutenant was learning maneuvering and other skills based on the U.S. Air Force curriculum to become a fighter pilot. Both the Air Force and Navy fly T-38 jets for training. During training flights, the jets typically carry an instructor and a student pilot.
The pilots of the T-38 attempted to land, but instead went down in a wooded area adjacent to the airport. During its descent, the jet plane crashed near a residential area. However, it didn’t damage any structures on the ground, the airport’s executive director Marshall Taggart Jr. said to WSFA-TV.
Air Force Mourns the Loss of the Two Pilots
Previous to the Air Force jet crash, Taggart said multiple other pilots complained about the sun, according to the Montgomery Advertiser. The airport tower reported that numerous pilots had trouble because of the sun leading up to the crash. Therefore, that may have played a role in Friday’s deadly crash.
Subsequently, local media reported that the National Transportation Safety Board sent a team to the scene of the crash. Yet an NTSB spokesperson said they did not have jurisdiction since the crash involved “a military aircraft on a military mission.”
Instead, Air National Guard officials responded to the scene alongside police, firefighters and other local first responders. Emergency management director Christina Thornton said the response is standard procedure under the circumstances.
“We train together, we respond together,” Thornton explained, according to a FOX News report.
Following the Air Force jet crash, officials asked local drivers to avoid the intersection of Selma Highway and Lamar Road. 14th Flying Training Wing commander Col. Seth Graham shared a statement following the tragic incident.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the two pilots involved in this incident,” Graham said in the statement. “There are no words that can describe the sadness that accompanies the loss of our teammates.”