Two airmen were killed Thursday in an accident involving two T-38C Talon jet trainers at an Air Force base in northwestern Oklahoma, military officials said.
Vance Air Force Base said in a statement that two aircraft, each with two people aboard, were taking part in a training mission when the mishap occurred shortly after 9 a.m.
There were two people aboard each aircraft, one crew escaped without injury, but the second jet turned upside down and skidded about 50 yards off the runway, coming to rest with its wheels up and leaving behind a long gash through the grass.
Lt. Col. John “Matt” Kincade and 2nd Lt. Travis B. Wilkie were piloting the supersonic T-38C Talon training aircraft that crashed in an incident that involved a second T-38 during a routine formation flight at Vance AFB. In formation flights, aircraft fly closely together in a synchronized manner.
“We are a close-knit family, and when tragedies like this occur, every member of the U.S. military, Vance, Enid, feels it,” said Col. Corey Simmons, 71st Flying Training Wing commander.
The Stars and Stripes reported that Kincade, 47, was an Air Force reservist assigned to the 5th Flying Training Squadron, according to a news release. He was a husband and father of two. Social media posts indicated Kincade had previously served as an active-duty Navy pilot and was an Afghanistan war veteran.
Wilkie, 23, was a student pilot recently commissioned into the Air Force. He is survived by his wife, parents and sister, according to the Air Force. Wilkie was from San Diego and a 2018 graduate of the Air Force Academy, where he was a catcher on the Falcons baseball team, according to the academy’s website.
Service officials said an investigation into the crash was launched Thursday within hours of the incident, but they did not provide information about what might have led to the crash.