November 27, 2007 (by Asif Shamim) - Air Force Times is reporting that an accident investigation board has concluded its investigation and released a report on Monday saying that F-16C (#91-0386) crashed due to a jammed throttle cable during a night training mission over the Nevada test range.
F-16C #91-0386 seen in service with the 389th FS before joining the 16th Weapons Squadron
The pilot, Maj. David Epperson declared an in-flight emergency 46 minutes into his mission when he discovered the engine throttle was stuck at max settings for the engine. With the jet stuck with afterburners on, he realised he would be unable to make a landing at the Tonopah Test Range Airfield on March 12th.
On declaring the emergency a decision was made to let the F-16 from 16th Weapons Squadron run out of fuel. This took approximately 8 minutes for the tanks to run dry. The Major’s plan was then to glide the jet into land at Tonopah.
The problem was then further compounded when the airfield automated lights failed to activate when Epperson and his Flight leader radioed in the emergency.
The lights finally came on as the Major was on approach to the airfield. Realising he would not reach the runway and only 50 feet above the desert he decided to eject. Less than 2 seconds later the F-16 crashed 1,500 feet short of the runway skidding 1,000 feet before stopping.
The accident board determined that the cable which was first installed back in 1991 had passed recent inspections. Investigators could not be certain when or how the cable became damaged.
At the time of the incident, Epperson an experienced pilot was assigned as an instructor pilot with the Weapons School based at Nellis Air Force Base. He was also the also the chief of safety for the school.