Planes crash at Vance AFB resulting in deaths of airmen. Turns out training can be more dangerous than wartime.

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When most people think of the United States Armed Forces, they often think of the dangers associated with wartime.

Now, while that is a very reasonable aspect to consider, the reality is that statically speaking, wartime isn’t the biggest threat facing the men and women who serve our country.

The biggest threat that our brave men and women have to face during their time in the military is the possibility of training exercises going awry.

For example, just this week two airmen were killed on Thursday morning in what officials called an “aircraft mishap” involving two trainer jets at a US Air Force base in Oklahoma, according to a report.

While every branch engages in various training exercises, the most prone to have catastrophic results are aircraft-based exercises.

The two T-38 Talons, each carrying two crew members, were being flown in a routine training mission at Vance Air Force Base in Enid when the accident occurred at approximately 9:00 a.m., as reported by the Air Force Times.

For the time being, the names of the now deceased crew members are being withheld from the public due to the pending notification of their respective next of kin. As of now, the circumstances surrounding the accident are also under investigation.

Images that were shown in local TV news outlets broadcasting what was known at the time of the incident had shown one aircraft upside down on grass along a runway and the other upright on the runway.

A statement provided by Governor Kevin Stitt said:

“We are saddened by the tragic news of the loss of life of two pilots at Vance Air Force Base this morning. My thoughts and prayers are with the pilots’ families and the team at Vance.

Today serves as a reminder that our nation’s military make great sacrifices and put their lives on the line every day to protect our nation. I spoke with the Wing Commander at Vance AFB to communicate the state will offer support in any possible way during this time.”

Vance is home to the 71st Flying Training Wing, which flies the T-1A Jayhawk, the T-6A Texan II, and the T-38 — a two-seat supersonic jet — to train hundreds of pilots each year.

With all the variables that can come into play when flying, from operator error to faulty equipment, every exercise has to be endeavored with great caution and focus.

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Planes crash at Vance AFB resulting in deaths of airmen.  Turns out training can be more dangerous than wartime.

 

As mentioned, training exercises can pose the greatest risk to the Armed Forces. In a report pertaining to the National Defense Authorization Act of fiscal year 2019, lawmakers on the House Armed Service Committee said that in 2017 nearly four times as many military personnel died in training accidents as were killed in combat.

In all, by the committee’s accounting, 21 service members died in combat while 80 died as a result of non- combat training-related accidents. And during the of spring of 2018 alone, the report added, 25 people were killed in military aviation mishaps.

With regard to Vance Air Force Base and flying based mishaps, the last serious incident involved an aircraft where on August 17th, 2018 an instructor pilot was forced to eject about 50 miles west of the base, according to the Enid News. The pilot, who was the only person aboard, was not seriously hurt.

Prior to the pilot ejection in 2018, 18 years earlier Ensign Kristopher Krohne, a Navy Reserve pilot, was killed during a training flight at Vance when the T-37 jet he was flying crashed about a mile from the runway, the news outlet reported.

The problem is not limited to aviation. In August of 2017, the Navy lost 17 sailors in separate collisions involving the USS John S. McCain and the USS Fitzgerald.

Navy investigators later found both accidents were related to ongoing Navy readiness problems. A month later, 14 Marines and a sailor were wounded, some critically, when their amphibious assault vehicle had burst into flames after an explosion during a pre-deployment training exercise at Camp Pendleton.

Training is necessary for the Armed Forces that protect our country, but that doesn’t mean we have to be content with the causalities suffered from the exercises.

While not every possible scenario or variable can be avoided, hopefully the military will take steps to further mitigate the sad outcomes from what should have been a day of training instead of a day of loss.


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