Albuquerque F-16 pilot disoriented before fatal Michigan crash report reveals

ALBUQUERQUE, NM (KRQE) – Air Combat Command has issued a Report of the Accident Investigation Bureau on an F-16 crash that took place in 2020 that killed an Albuquerque pilot. According to the report, Captain Durwood Jones, 37, who was assigned to the 115th Fighter Wind at Truax Field Air National Guard Base in Wisconsin, was conducting a night aerospace control alert training mission on December 8, 2020, in Hiawatha National Park. Forest in Michigan when the incident occurred.

The report says Captain Jones, who was with a winger, suffered GPS degradation due to the lack of satellite tracking data. In a troubleshooting effort, Jones performed an in-flight inertial navigation system alignment and the two planes reportedly performed a head swap.

It was after this exchange that the plane entered weather conditions and Jones lost visual contact with the winger. The aircraft then changed position before striking the ground.

The report states that Jones did not attempt to eject himself from the plane. The Accident Investigation Bureau determined that the cause of the incident was the pilot‘s inability to recover effectively from spatial disorientation due to weather conditions, use of night vision goggles, low lighting, aircraft position and airspeed, and the pilot’s inability to visually scan flight instruments.

The AIB president also discovered two other factors that contributed to the crash, namely the pilot focusing on a system problem characterized as minor. This would have prevented the pilot from flying the aircraft. The second factor was a degraded GPS satellite tracking system.

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

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