Air Force Identifies Pilots Killed, Injured in Latest T-38 Trainer Crash

Capt. John Graziano was killed Nov. 13, 2018 in a T-38 Talon crash. (Air Force via Facebook)
Capt. John Graziano was killed Nov. 13, 2018 in a T-38 Talon crash. (Air Force via Facebook)

The Air Force has identified the pilots involved in Tuesday's T-38 Talon crash at Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas.

Capt. John F. Graziano, 28, an instructor pilot with the 87th Flying Training Squadron, was killed in the crash, officials said. Graziano was from Elkridge, Maryland. The crash was the 5th involving a T-38 in just the last 12 months.

Capt. Mark S. Palyok, also an instructor pilot with the unit, was injured in the crash. Palyok was transported to Val Verde Regional Medical Center in Texas, where he was treated for his injuries. He was released Wednesday, officials said in an announcement on the official Laughlin Facebook page.

"Knowing how everyone is affected by this tragedy, my immediate concern is making sure that every member of our Laughlin family is okay," Col. Lee Gentile, 47th Flying Training Wing commander, said in the post. "Together, we are Laughlin and now is the time that we stand together to take care of one another."

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The Air Force T-38 Talon went down at 7:40 p.m. local time on Tuesday at the base, officials said. Emergency crews responded to the scene.

The cause of the incident is under investigation.

"Our investigators are doing everything possible to ensure they investigate this incident to the fullest," Gentile said.

The 87th is responsible for training student pilots and, to include specialized undergraduate pilot training for the active-duty, Air Force Reserve, Air National Guard as well as foreign allied air forces.

The latest crash comes as the Air Force is on the path to receive new trainer jets to replace its current Northrop Grumman-made T-38s.

There have been four previous crashes involving T-38s in the last 12 months, one of them deadly.

In September, the service awarded Boeing Co. a $9.2 billion contract to build the service's next aircraft for training future pilots.

The new trainer cannot come too soon for the service as it struggles to maintain its aging Talons, as well as its T-6 Texan II aircraft.

The Texan has had its share of problems as well.

The Air Force cleared its fleet of T-6 trainers to resume training operations at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph after a "brief pause" following a crash near the base Sept. 18.

Both pilots safely ejected from the aircraft. The Texan was also grounded in February after ongoing reports of pilots suffering breathing problems.

-- Oriana Pawlyk can be reached at oriana.pawlyk@military.com. Follow her on Twitter at @oriana0214.

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