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Air Force Confirms Bird Strike Downed $8M Jet Over N. Texas

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    NEWSLETTERS

    KFDX-TV
    A T-38C crashed south of Sheppard Air Force Base in Wichita Falls, Texas, July 19, 2013, after a bird strike. Both the pilot and trainer pilot ejected and suffered only minor injuries.

    U.S. Air Force investigators have confirmed that a bird strike caused an $8 million jet to crash in North Texas during a training flight in July.

    Two pilots suffered minor injuries when they ejected from the T-38 Talon before it plummeted to the ground south of Sheppard Air Force Base and burst into flames.

    Maj. Christopher Thompson was instructing a member of the German Air Force at the time. They were part of the base's Euro-NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training Program. The program trains students from nine NATO countries.

    Sheppard officials said Tuesday the bird struck the jet's canopy, shattering it and sending fragments into an engine that then failed.

    Both Thompson and German 1st Lt. Julius Dressbach ejected safely, though suffered minor injuries.

    The incident was compounded by the pilots' attempts to execute a turn that increased drag. The jet lost airspeed and then stalled.