April 17, 2004 (by Anonymous) - On April 15th or 16th, a Belgian Air Force F-16 made a crash-landing during a NVG training mission at NAF El Centro.
During the Night Vision Goggle/Targeting Pod training in El Centro, CA (USA) the pilot crash-landed his Viper (FA-60). On touch-down, the left side of the landing gear broke. Only moments after that, the nose wheel also collapsed and the plane ran of the runway before it came to a halt.
The pilot, Commander Phille Heytjens, stayed cool and remained in his cockpit. He only suffered from a few bruises.
The FA-60 was planned to be stored at Weelde this year, so it will most likely not be repaired.
The combination of unique climate, vast unobstructed desert terrain, limited non-military air traffic and its own dedicated gunnery and bomb ranges make NAF El Centro an ideal environment for aerial combat maneuvering, air-to-air gunnery, bombing practice and electronic warfare training. The number of flight operations (landings and take-offs) exceeded 167,000 in 1999. Flight operations on a typical day reach over 450 between 7 a.m. and 11 p.m.