USAF releases investigation report into F15 crash

An F-15C Eagle assigned to the 493rd Fighter Squadron, 48th Wing, prepares to land at Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England. (Air Force photograph by Airman 1st Class Jessi Monte)

U.S. Air Forces in Europe released an accident investigation board report Nov. 23, 2020, regarding the F-15C Eagle crash, which occurred June 15, 2020.

The crash occurred in the North Sea off the coast of England, approximately 124 nautical miles northeast of RAF Lakenheath.

The pilot, 1st Lt. Kenneth “Kage” Allen, was fatally injured. Allen was assigned to the 493rd Fighter Squadron, 48th Wing, at RAF Lakenheath. Allen had been at Lakenheath since February 2020, and is survived by his wife, Hannah, and his parents. Allen called northern Utah home.

“This unfortunate accident is yet another reminder of the inherent risks Airmen take on a daily basis to ensure the successes of our Air Force,” said Gen. Jeff Harrigian, U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa commander. “Lieutenant Allen was an outstanding officer and a tremendous asset to the team. No words can compensate for such a painful and sudden loss.”

“The loss of an Airman is never easy, and this aircraft accident was no exception,” said Col. Jason Camilletti, 48th Fighter Wing commander. “Our Liberty Wing community, especially the Reapers of the 493rd Fighter Squadron, was truly touched by the tremendous outpouring of support from families, friends and partners around the globe in our time of grieving.”

1st Lt. Kenneth “Kage” Allen (Courtesy photograph)

The mishap occurred during a routine local combat training flight.

The AIB found, by a preponderance of evidence, that the cause of the mishap was the pilot’s fixation on the intercept of the simulated adversary aircraft and failure to execute cockpit instrument visual scans when the pilot encountered Instrument Meteorological Conditions. Reduced visibility and a lack of a discernable horizon for the pilot resulted in spatial disorientation. The inability of the pilot to accurately sense the pitch attitude of the aircraft due to spatial disorientation significantly contributed to the pilot’s undesirable low pitch attitude, rapidly descending altitude, and the resulting mishap.

The Air Force is constantly evaluating its procedures with regard to safety and ensures these findings are incorporated into flying training programs and curriculum.

The aircraft, valued at approximately $45 million, was destroyed.

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