ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. -- Poor judgment and a lapse in flight discipline caused an A-10C Thunderbolt II to strike two cables over Stockton Lake in Missouri, according to the Air Force Reserve Command Accident Investigation Board report released Aug. 6.
According to the report, the aircraft from the 442nd Fighter Wing, Whiteman AFB, Mo., was on a two-plane low altitude tactical navigation training mission at the time of the mishap. The lake is about 90 miles south of the base.
The accident board president found convincing evidence that the cause of the mishap was the pilot's poor judgment and lapse in flight discipline that resulted in violation of flight rules and operating procedures relating to minimum altitudes.
As the flight flew over the southeast branch of the lake, the mishap pilot descended below the approved minimum altitude of 300 feet above ground level and maneuvered toward a boat that was traveling southeast on the lake.
The flight leader radioed the mishap pilot and told him that the flight was approaching power lines that cross the lake. The mishap pilot acknowledged the call but continued his descent. At about 140 feet above ground level, the mishap aircraft struck two protective cables that run above the power lines crossing the lake.
The accident board determined that the following three factors contributed to the mishap: - Mishap pilot focused his attention on the boat in the lake and did not see the cables his plane hit. - Mishap pilot demonstrated complacency immediately prior to mishap by descending aircraft rather than climbing as a response to altitude advisories. - Mishap pilot failed to acknowledge confirmation he saw cables after mishap flight leader identified threat to navigation presented by cables over the lake. The mishap pilot was able to land the aircraft at Whiteman AFB, and the plane was towed to the base's aircraft parking ramp.
The aircraft sustained extensive damage to the right horizontal stabilizer, vertical tail and rudder; the left wing tip; and weapons and suspension equipment mounted under the left wing.
The total repair cost for the plane was $698,858.69. The cost to repair the cables was not known at the time of the report.