Two USAF T-38C Talons Crash, One Pilot Killed at Laughlin AFB
Two badly damaged T-38Cs seen on runway in photos from Texas Training Facility. Fourth T-38 crash in 2021.
One pilot is dead and two others are injured following an accident involving two T-38C Talon advanced jet trainers at Laughlin AFB in Del Rio Texas at approximately 10 A.M. local time on Friday, November 19, 2021.
According to an official media release from Laughlin AFB posted on their Facebook page, “One of the injured pilots was transported to Val Verde Regional Medical Center in Del Rio, Texas, where they were treated and released. The other pilot is in critical condition and was evacuated by air to Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio.”
The accident, which appears to have occurred in close proximity to a runway at the installation based on photos circulated on social media, may have happened while the two aircraft were about to take off or land. No details have been officially released. An official accident investigation is underway.
Based on the same photographs, we can determine that one of the aircraft involved in the incident is the specially painted T-38C of the 87th Flying Training Squadron (FTS) “Redbulls” (serial 68-8121) that was given a heritage livery similar to the one used on the F-106A Delta Darts jets the 87th Fighter Interceptor Squadron from K.I. Sawyer AFB (Michigan) from 1968 to 1985.
In a statement, USAF Col. Craig Prather said, “Losing teammates is unbelievably painful and it is with a heavy heart I express my sincere condolences. Our hearts, thoughts, and prayers are with our pilots involved in this mishap and their families.”
The names of the crew members involved in the accident have not been officially released.
Laughlin AFB is reported to be the, “largest USAF flight training base”. According to one source, on weekdays, the facility “accommodates more flights than any other airfield in the U.S”. The base is home to the Air Education and Training Command’s 47th Flying Training Wing. The Wing includes the 87th Flying Training Squadron, the unit that operates the T-38C Talon at Laughlin.
The Northrop T-38C Talon is a two-seat, twin-engine, advanced supersonic jet trainer. It first flew 62 years ago in April of 1959 and is the first-ever supersonic advanced jet trainer.
The Aviation-Safety.net website lists 101 accident “occurrences” involving the T-38 Talon in their database while a separate reference cites that, “More than 210 aircraft losses and ejections have been documented over the lifetime of the T-38”. This latest accident is the fourth T-38 crash in 2021 and resulted in the third fatality so far this year. The accident rate in the aging supersonic advanced trainer appear to be accelerating in frequency during the past two years. If you search in our archive, unfortunately, you’ll find several reports about T-38 incidents.
The T-38 Talon is expected to be replaced by the new Boeing T-7A Red Hawk advanced jet trainer in the future.