Air Force IDs Pilots Killed in Inverted Trainer Crash

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T-38 Talon
A T-38 Talon from the 509th Bomb Wing flies a training sortie at Whiteman Air Force Base.

The Air Force has identified the two pilots killed in Thursday's T-38 Talon trainer aircraft accident at Vance Air Force Base, Oklahoma.

Lt. Col. John "Matt" Kincade, 47, an instructor pilot assigned to the 5th Flying Training Squadron and 2nd Lt. Travis B. Wilkie, 23, a student pilot assigned to the 71st Student Squadron, died in a crash that occurred during routine training, the service said Friday.

"We are a close-knit family," Col. Corey Simmons, 71st Flying Training Wing commander, said in a statement. "And when tragedies like this occur, every member of the U.S. military, Vance, Enid, feels it."

The accident occurred at approximately 9:10 a.m. during the landing phase of training. Two Air Force T-38 trainer aircraft were involved. There were two people on board each T-38.

Related: 2 Airmen Dead After T-38 Trainer Aircraft Accident at Vance AFB

One aircraft landed inverted and slid several yards, Simmons said during a local news conference following the accident. Video footage from local news sources showed a T-38 flipped over in the grass with its nose gear collapsed.

The other T-38 was able to land upright, and the two pilots aboard that aircraft were not injured, Vance officials said, as reported by the Enid News & Eagle.

Officials have not identified the pilots in the second aircraft. The incident required emergency response personnel.

"I don't want to try to guess [what happened]," Simmons said in the press conference.

An accident investigation is underway; all flights have been suspended at Vance for now, the commander said.

Prior to this, the last Class A mishap -- involving fatalities, severe damage totaling $2 million or more, or a complete loss of the aircraft -- for the base occurred in August 2018. A Talon crashed near the base at the time; the pilot was able to eject.

The 71st trains pilots on the T-38, T-1A Jayhawk and T-6A Texan II.

The Talon has been the backbone of the service's undergraduate pilot training, or UPT, program for decades. Since 1961, the Air Force has trained more than 71,000 U.S. and allied pilots on the T-38, according to the service.

Those selected to fly bombers and fighters typically receive their advanced pilot training in the T-38. The Air Force is preparing to receive new trainer jets -- the T-7A Redhawk -- to replace its current Northrop Grumman-made T-38s, some of which date to the mid-1960s.

"I am deeply saddened by the devastating news of the training-related incident at Vance Air Force Base that resulted in the deaths of two airmen," Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Oklahoma, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said in a statement Thursday.

"Over the last decade, more active-duty service members died as a result of training-related incidents than in combat operations. ... While training-related casualties are down this year, even a single instance is too many."

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

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