The US Navy is reporting the death of two pilots in a tragic plane crash. This isn’t the first incident from the airbase.
The two pilots — one an instructor and the other a student — were found dead Monday morning after their training plane went missing Sunday afternoon. The crashed plane was found in East Tennessee and took off from the Meridian Naval Air Station, Mississippi.
Training Air Wing ONE confirmed yesterday that a T-45C Goshawk training jet aircraft crashed in the Cherokee National Forest on Sunday near a fish hatchery. The names of the deceased are being withheld until after the next of kin have been notified.
The cause of the crash is still unknown, and the Navy plans to launch an investigation to discover it.
The plane was carrying explosives when it crashed, so authorities have had to clear a three-mile radius surrounding the crash site. Recovery efforts were called off Sunday evening because of the danger posed by the explosives.
The Clarion-Ledger reports that this is the third incident involving T-45C jets originating from the Meridian Naval Air Station in just over 13 months. There is potential for a larger problem here.
Back in September of 2016, another T-45C Goshawk crashed, also in a heavily wooded area. Thankfully, the student and instructor aboard that plane were able to eject and both survived.
A similar incident played out in January. The T-45C Goshawk crashed during a training flight. Both the student and instructor ejected. They recovered from the incident and were treated and released from a local hospital.
Two instructors told Fox News that the training planes were involved in roughly three incidents a week. Over 100 instructors have now refused to fly the planes in protest. They are concerned that there is a problem with the aircraft’s oxygen system.
In response to some instructors’ concerns, the Navy chose to ground several of the T-45C Goshawks in April and reduced the training schedule. In light of this recent incident, the Navy may ground all of the planes.
As well as pilots, many in Congress have been expressing concern over the incidents. House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry (R-TX) is among them.
“There is no question that there are problems that are being covered up,” Thornberry said, “I am very concerned about the issue. It’s been getting worse over time and if you look at the statistics, the older airplanes are having bigger problems than newer airplanes.”
Indeed, over the last five years, physiological episodes have quadrupled. The planes’ oxygen systems are causing oxygen poisoning, also called “histotoxichypoxia.” The problem is also known to happen in another plane, the US Navy’s F/A-18 Hornets.
However, it is still unknown whether this recent incident is related to the problem with oxygen tanks in the planes, or was caused by something else.
In the meantime, student pilots are unable to train, including Marine 1st Lt. Michael Pence, who is the son of Vice President Pence.