MILITARY & VETERANS AFFAIRS

NEWS RELEASE

RELEASE:
IMMEDIATE (3 September 1997)

FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION CONTACT:
LTC JOHN DWYER, NJDMAVA-PAO
101 EGGERT CROSSING ROAD
LAWRENCEVILLE, NJ 08648
609-530-6939
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F-16 Accident Investigation Report Released

The New Jersey National Guard today released the Air Force Accident Investigation Report of the September 16, 1997, midair collision of two F-16's from the 177th Fighter Wing, New Jersey Air National Guard, off the coast of Atlantic City, New Jersey. The Accident Investigation Report concludes that the cause of the incident was pilot error on the part of all three pilots involved in the accident.

According to the report, the F-16's collided while en route to a tactical maneuver training area. The accident happened during a standard fighter rejoin maneuver minutes after takeoff from Atlantic City. Two pilots of the F-16D lost awareness and did not realize how close they were to the F-16C until they collided with the aircraft.

Contributing to the accident was lack of communication between the pilots of both aircraft along with the distraction associated with the donning of night vision goggles.

The two F-16's were based at the Atlantic City International Airport in Pomona, New Jersey. They were participating in a night vision goggle training mission in a block of airspace reserved that night exclusively for military maneuvers. The aircraft were about 40 miles from Atlantic City when the crash occurred. All three pilots survived the accident, although the F-16D crashed into the ocean and was lost.

The two pilots of the F-16D successfully ejected and were recovered by rescue helicopters from the US Coast Guard within 90 minutes of the accident. The pilot of the F-16C flew his damaged jet back to Atlantic City Airport. The F-16C had damage to the left wing, left horizontal stabilizer, fuselage, canopy and engine. Estimated costs of the accident are $16.3 million for the loss of the F-16D and $1.15 million for the damage to the F-16C.

Two of the three pilots involved in the accident remain grounded. Their flying status is being reviewed pending further action by the New Jersey National Guard Adjutant General.

For questions concerning the Accident Investigation Report or for any additional information, contact Lieutenant Colonel John Dwyer, Public Affairs Officer at the New Jersey Department of Military and Veterans Affairs at (609) 530-6939.

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