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Air Force pilot dies after aircraft ejection seat goes off while on the ground

Written by on May 15, 2024

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(NEW YORK) — An Air Force instructor pilot has died after the ejection seat on his aircraft activated while the plane was operating on the ground, officials said.

The incident occurred on Monday at Sheppard Air Force Base near Wichita Falls, Texas, when Capt. John Robertson of the 80th Operations Support Squadron was in a T-6A Texan II aircraft during ground operations and he was suddenly ejected from the plane, causing him severe injuries, according to a statement from Sheppard Air Force Base released on Tuesday describing the incident.

Robertson died early Tuesday morning from the injuries he suffered in the accident, Air Force officials said.

“This is a devastating loss for Captain Robertson’s family and loved ones, and for the entire 80th Flying Training Wing,” said Col. Mitchell J. Cok, the acting wing commander. “Captain Robertson was a highly valued Airman and instructor pilot. Our deepest condolences go with all who knew and loved him.”

An interim safety board investigation was convened immediately following the incident, according to Sheppard Air Force Base, and a “full Air Force Safety Investigation Board is expected to be in place later this week.”

The board will release its report when the investigation is complete but they did not disclose when they expected this to happen.

“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,” Cok said. “Their efforts allowed time for Captain Robertson’s family to be at his side when he passed.”

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