Skip to comments.Military Pilot Killed In Two-Jet Collision Over Indiana
Posted on 05/17/2004 2:14:30 PM PDT by Samwise
OAKTOWN, Ind. -- Two F-16 fighter jets collided in midair Monday afternoon over southwestern Indiana, killing one of the pilots, the Indiana Air National Guard said. The other pilot parachuted to safety.
National Guard Capt. Lisa Kopczynski said the two jets were from the Terre Haute-based 181st Fighter Wing and were on routine training in airspace reserve for military training near the Indiana-Illinois state line.
The names of the pilots were not immediately released.
Resident Lisa Hall said she was at home in the area about 40 miles south of Terre Haute when she heard an explosion and that she saw the dead pilot's body in a field nearby.
"I walked outside and saw the man coming down in the parachute," Hall said. "His parachute wasn't open, it was collapsed."
State police Sgt. Greg Winkler said the jets collided about 1:40 p.m.
Lt. Col. Colbert with the Indiana Air National Guard, who did not give his first name, said one plane made contact with the ground in Indiana, and the other was on the ground in Illinois, west of the Wabash River. The pilot whose plane ended up in Indiana was OK and taken to a hospital, but the Air National Guard had yet to make contact with the plane in Illinois, Colbert said.
Sandra Hatton, a spokeswoman for Good Samaritan Hospital in Vincennes, said an officer with the Indiana Air National Guard's 181st Fighter Wing was taken to the hospital, but said she could not disclose his condition. She referred questions to the National Guard, which did not immediately return telephone calls seeking comment.
Don Kirkham, a former Knox County sheriff, said he was mowing his lawn when he heard a boom or explosion and then looked up to see someone parachuting down. He said he drove to that area near the Indiana-Illinois state line and found two other people comforting the pilot, who was agitated and had head wounds.
"He's OK. He's bleeding from facial wounds," Kirkham said.
"All he was concerned about was his buddy. He said 'I'm not worried about anything but my buddy,' so we cornered him and got him into an ambulance," Kirkham said.
Illinois State Police Sgt. John Waggle said one of the planes was down in Illinois, but he would not give any other details and referred questions to Indiana authorities.
Storms with the potential to produce lightning and small hail were crossing the area at the time of the crash, but no severe weather was reported in Knox County, said Jason Puma, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Indianapolis.
"There were some thunderstorms in that area at the time, but I don't what kind of role that could have played in the incident," Puma said.
Karla Caballero, manager of Da Bar & Grill in Oaktown, said she was talking on the phone to her mother when she heard what she assumed was a sonic boom.
She said that about 15 minutes later a man came into the bar and said he saw a pilot parachute down along nearby U.S. 41 who said he spoke to the pilot, who appeared fine.
She said other people said they saw smoke coming from an area about 6 to 8 miles south of the rural town of about 800 people
Indiana Air Guard ping
May he rest in peace.
LIBERAL Will say, US Troops should get of Indiana.
We're saddened over the Indiana Air National Guard and America's loss.
Thanks for the ping Samwise
I thought John F'n Kerry said that serving as an Nat'l Guard pilot during a shooting war was a way to avoid personal risk. And the F-16 is about 100 times safer than the old F-100 or F-101.
God Speed pilot.
Liberals say George Bush avoided Viet Nam duty which would have put him in harm's way. I say Air Guard flying puts you in harm's way very quickly -- one slight error in piloting, inattention, or a small miscalculation can cause a crash with very high probability of death or at least injury. To me serving as a pilot in the military is dangerous, much more so by a long shot, than what Kerry did in Viet Nam.
Tragic! I hope the surviving pilot doesn't feel guilty about losing his buddy. It sounds like he might. He doesn't need that.
My heartfelt prayers for them both and their families, a salute to them both, and a special prayer that the surviving pilot won't ground himself with guilt.
A sad day in Indiana.
Worth praying again.
Or even GW's plane, the F-102
I am affiliated with a newspaper in the area, and sent a reporter to the scene. One pilot is dead the other is safe. For the record, the 181st fighter wing is one of the most decorated in the Air Force, having spent many months both in Desert Storm and patroling the No-Fly Zones. While I cannot say for certain, the lost pilot is more than likely a combat veteran.
God Bless the 181st Racers
It sucks. Even practicing for war can be hell......
Or my best friend's dad's AC, the F-105, "Thud". He later graduated to F-4s. I can't keep track of early '60s AC, I admit. I've generally worked AC from the F-15, F-16, A-10 (and for a while...) SAM 707's era. I watched the crash of an F-4 into Lake Worth. The WSO and Pilot did a great job of missing everything important. I still pray for their families.
As I pray for all the men that fly and fight.
During 1949-50, we lived on Lake Worth -- squarely across the lake from the main runway at Carswell AFB. They were building B-36s at the Convair plant and flying them out of Carswell -- directly over our house.
Giant machines with six props and four jets, they oddly sounded like a giant swarm of hornets. Their low-pitched hum would actually vibrate dishes out of the cabinets in our kitchen.
We got so used to the incessant "buzz" they made that we paid it no attention. Then, one night, it...stopped. All of us came alert and ran to the back of the house. And, there, immediately off our dock was a B-36...in the lake, burning, her back broken.
We later discovered that something had gone wrong on takeoff and the crew had taken it into the lake, rather than try to keep it airborne. Just a few seconds more and they'd have come down squarely on top of us.
My recollection is that most of the crew died in this crash.
God bless our servicemen.
the TribStar? I remember when the Star was a morning paper, and the Tribune the evening...
Delaware Trail here. Maybe you were on Cahoba Trail.
Sounds like we were neighbors once.
This is awful to hear.
Actually this was another post, not yours...
ok thank you,
I posted before I really took the time to see if this story was already posted.
This hit pretty close to home for me.
I am sad for the loss of this pilot. May God comfort the family. I pray comfort for the surviving pilot also.
No, not the Tribune-Star, although I did work for that paper at one time.
The pilot's name was Major William Burchett.
Remember him and his family in our prayers
All I can find on the flyer was he was promoted to Major on 29 May of 2002.........Prayers for his surviving family and friends.
Stay Safe !