Update: Laughlin Air Force Base posted the following statement regarding the crash on it’s Facebook page late Wednesday night:

The members involved in the T-38 Talon incident from Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas, on Nov. 13, 2018, have been identified.

The deceased, Capt. John F. Graziano, 28, was an instructor pilot with the 87th Flying Training Squadron at Laughlin AFB. He was from Elkridge, Maryland and is survived by his mother, father, sisters and brother.

Injured was Capt. Mark S. Palyok, an instructor pilot, also with the 87th FTS. He was transported to Val Verde Regional Medical Center where he was treated for his injuries. He was treated and released Nov.14.

“Knowing how everyone is effected by this tragedy, my immediate concern is making sure that every member of our Laughlin family is okay,” said Col. Lee Gentile, 47th Flying Training Wing commander. “Together, we are Laughlin and now is the time that we stand together to take care of one another.” The incident occurred at about 7:40 p.m. on Laughlin.

The cause of the incident is under investigation.

“Our investigators are doing everything possible to ensure they investigate this incident to the fullest.” said Gentile.

The 87th Flying Training Squadron prepares student pilots and Airmen for multi-domain operations. It conducts specialized undergraduate pilot training for the United States Air Force, Air Force Reserve, Air National Guard and allied nation’s air forces.

Watch senior leaders from Laughlin Air Force base discuss the loss of Capt. John F. Graziano:

–Original Story Below–

At approximately 7:40 p.m. local time on Tuesday, an Air Force T-38 Talon crashed near Laughlin Air Force Base in Del Rio, Texas. One crew member died in the crash and the other is currently hospitalized. The Air Force has yet to reveal the second crew member’s identity or condition.

A U.S. Air Force T-38C Talon aircraft (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Matthew Hannen) (Released)

Details regarding this most recent crash remain limited, but the incident itself begs some hard questions about the Air Force’s training advanced jet training program. Tuesday’s crash marks the fifth time an Air Force T-38 Talon has crashed in training in just the past twelve months. In fact, over the past year, the T-38 platform alone accounts for half of all Air Force crashes. The most recent T-38 crash occurred in September when another trainer jet veered off the runway at Sheppard Air Force Base in Texas. Both crew members ejected from the aircraft and were eventually released back to full duty.

In August, yet another Talon, this time from the 71st Flying Training Wing at Vance Air Force Base in Oklahoma, went down. The pilot was able to safely eject in that instance, as well.

In May of this year, a T-38 out of Columbus Air Force Base crashed. Both pilots were able to eject.

In November of last year, a pilot from the 87th Flying Training Squadron died when his T-38 Talon went down near Laughlin.

While plans are already underway to replace the T-38 jet training platform with the forthcoming Boeing T-X, they likely won’t begin fielding the new aircraft for years to come — which places the Air Force in a difficult position. In October, the Air Force Air Education and Training Command chose to relieve the wing commander, group commander, and flying training squadron commander from the 47th Flying Training Wing at Laughlin Air Force Base, citing leadership failures.

“These commanders saw behavior in their wing, in their group, and in their squadron that they knew was inconsistent with our values and they did nothing sufficient about it,” AETC commander Lt. Gen. Steven Kwast said at the time. “It continued and that behavior created a culture where the airmen did not feel safe and they did not feel respected, and it became a cancer that caused problems.”


Feature photo courtesy of the US Air Force