Pilots Suffer Minor Injuries After Ejecting from Navy Trainer Jet in Texas

A T-45C Goshawk, assigned to Training Air Wing (TRAWING) 1, prepares to land on the flight deck aboard USS Harry S. Truman, Sept. 16, 2017. (U.S. Navy photo/Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Anthony Flynn)
A T-45C Goshawk, assigned to Training Air Wing (TRAWING) 1, prepares to land on the flight deck aboard USS Harry S. Truman, Sept. 16, 2017. (U.S. Navy photo/Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Anthony Flynn)

A pilot-instructor and a student pilot suffered minor injuries Friday afternoon after ejecting from a T-45C Goshawk trainer aircraft that crashed at Naval Air Station Kingsville, Texas, the Navy said in a news release.

The crash occurred at 2:38 p.m. Friday within the airfield's perimeter fence but beyond the runway, the Navy said. The base is located near Corpus Christi.

The two personnel aboard were able to eject shortly before the crash. They suffered minor injuries and were treated at a local medical facility, according to the Navy.

Emergency services responded immediately to the crash site. The incident is under investigation, the Navy said.

The accident occurred as the aircraft was taking off, Lt. Michelle Tucker, a public affairs officer in the office of the Chief of Naval Air Training Command in Corpus Christi, said Monday.

Both the instructor-pilot and the student pilot were treated for their injuries and released, she said, and training at Kingsville resumed Monday.

T-45C Goshawk jets have been a mainstay for the Navy for strike pilot and carrier training.

Tucker said Friday's crash was the first of a T-45C since one went down Oct. 1, 2017, in Tennessee's Cherokee National Forest on a training mission, killing Lt. Patrick Ruth, 31, who was serving as the instructor-pilot (IP), and Lt. j.g. Wallace Burch, 25, the student naval aviator (SNA).

A highly critical investigation report on that crash released by the Navy in April 2018 blamed the incident on pilot error and reckless flying known as "flat hatting," or flying too low and beyond the operational limits of the aircraft, which forced a stall too late for the pilots to eject.

"The cause of the mishap was not due to mechanical, maintenance, or weather-related issues," Rear Adm. James Bynum, then-chief of Naval Air Training, wrote in the investigation report.

"The cause of the mishap is not related to a physiological episode on the part of either the IP or the SNA nor due to inadequate written training procedures or directions," he wrote. "Rather, this mishap resulted from individual pilot error. The IP was 'flat hatting' during various parts of this particular cross-country training event, and actively encouraged/instructed his SNA to follow his example."

Prior to the Tennessee crash, Naval Air Forces in April 2017 ordered a three-day grounding of T-45Cs to consider corrective action following reports of "physiological episodes" resulting from possible oxygen-system contamination.

"This issue is my number one safety priority, and our team of NavAir program managers, engineers and maintenance experts in conjunction with type commanders, medical and physiological experts continue to be immersed in this effort, working with a sense of urgency to determine all the root causes," Vice Adm. Mike Shoemaker, then-commander of Naval Air Forces, said in a Navy news release at the time.

-- Richard Sisk can be reached at Richard.Sisk@Military.com.

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