Report finds Albuquerque F-16 pilot was disoriented prior to fatal crash in Michigan

Albuquerque News

Capt. Durwood “Hawk” Jones of Albuquerque, NM. (courtesy Wisconsin Dept. of Military Affairs)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The Air Combat Command has released an Accident Investigation Board report on an F-16 crash that took place in 2020 and killed an Albuquerque pilot. According to the report, 37-year-old Capt. Durwood Jones who was assigned to the 115th Fighter Wind at Truax Field Air National Guard Base in Wisconsin was conducting a nighttime aerospace control alert training mission on December 8, 2020, in the Hiawatha National Forest in Michigan when the incident happened.

The report states that Capt. Jones, who was with a wingman, experienced a GPS degradation as a result of the absence of satellite tracking data. In an effort to troubleshoot, Jones performed an inflight alignment of the inertial navigation system and the two aircraft reportedly performed a lead swap.

It was after this swap that the aircraft entered weather conditions and Jones lost visual contact of the wingman. The aircraft then shifted positions before it impacted the ground.

The report states that Jones didn’t attempt to eject from the aircraft. The Accident Investigation Board determined that the cause of the incident was the pilot’s failure to effectively recover from spatial disorientation which was due to weather conditions, the use of night vision goggles, low illumination, the aircraft’s position and airspeed, and the pilot’s failure to effectively visually scan the flight instruments.

The AIB president also found two other factors that contributed to the crash which was the pilot focusing on a system issue that was described as minor. This reportedly detracted the pilot from flying the aircraft. The second factor was a degraded GPS satellite tracking system.

The crash destroyed the aircraft and there was no damage to civilian property.

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