Air Force Instructor Pilot Dies After Ejection Seat Activates During Ground Operations

The instructor pilot died from his injuries early on Tuesday.
Air Force Instructor Pilot Dies After Ejection Seat Activates During Ground Operations
A U.S. Air Force T-6A Texan II taxiing down the flight line at Laughlin Air Force Base in Texas, on Jan. 26, 2024. (Airman 1st Class Keira Rossman/U.S. Air Force via AP)
Aldgra Fredly

An instructor pilot in the U.S. Air Force died from injuries sustained after the ejection seat of his plane activated during ground operations at Sheppard Air Force Base in Texas, the Air Force stated on Tuesday.

Capt. John Robertson, from the 80th Operations Support Squadron, was severely injured on Monday when the ejection seat of the T-6A Texan II aircraft he was in activated while the aircraft was on the ground.

The instructor pilot died early on Tuesday from his injuries, according to a Sheppard Air Force Base statement posted on social media.

Col. Mitchell J. Cok, the acting wing commander, extended his condolences to Capt. Robertson’s family, and described him as “a highly valued Airman and instructor pilot” of the U.S. Air Force.

“This is a devastating loss for Captain Robertson’s family and loved ones, and for the entire 80th Flying Training Wing,” Col. Cok said in a statement. “Our deepest condolences go with all who knew and loved him.”

Col. Cok also expressed his gratitude to those who had promptly responded to the accident, noting that their efforts “allowed time for Captain Robertson’s family to be at his side when he passed.”

“We are thankful for the M1 maintenance team who immediately provided live-sustaining care, and for the heroic efforts of the security forces, fire and medical personnel here on base and at United Regional Hospital,” he stated.

The incident has prompted the immediate convening of an interim safety board. Base officials stated that a full Air Force Safety Investigation Board is expected to be formed later this week, with an investigation report to be released upon completion.

The T-6A Texan II is a single-engine, two-seat primary trainer aircraft that is manufactured by Raytheon. The aircraft is designed to train U.S. Air Force and Navy pilots in basic flying skills.

Sheppard is the only Air Force base that offers both technical and flight training. It also serves as a base for flight training chartered to produce combat pilots for NATO countries, according to its website.

In August 2022, a U.S. naval training exercise ended in a crash after an instructor pilot approached the Naval Air Station (NAS) Kingsville in Texas. The unidentified pilot was flying a T-45 Goshawk when the incident occurred on Aug. 16, 2022.

It was reported that the instructor pilot was ejected from the aircraft before the crash.

Naveen Athrappully contributed to this report.
Aldgra Fredly is a freelance writer covering U.S. and Asia Pacific news for The Epoch Times.