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Pilot disorientation result of Florida F-16 crash

March 26, 2008 (by Asif Shamim) - Air Force Times reports the night time crash on January 15th of F-16C block 30 #87-0347 from the 482nd FW was the result of pilot disorientation according to the accident investigation board.

USAF F-16C block 30 #87-0347 seen in the service of 466th FS during better days.

The F-16 was piloted by Maj. Peter S. Smith from the Air Force Reserve's 482nd Fighter Wing, based at Homestead Air Reserve Base, ejected, suffering a minor injury to his left knee. Smith had almost 700 hours of experience in F-16 and 2,630 flight hours overall.

His role that night was to fly as a agressor pilot and play "Red Air" with a fellow collegue against four "Blue Air" firendly F-16s the report went on to say.

Smith who was wearing night vision goggles lost contact with the horizon as he was turning 90 degree's to his left while his jet was descending from around 22,000 feet to 12,000 feet. While descending in the dive he lost contact with the horizon and became disoriented. His senses could not judge if he was in level flight according to the board of enquiry. His lack of scanning of cockpit instruments also compounded matters.

Smith was so disoriented that when he thought he was turning upward in an 8.75G climb, he actually increased the steepness of the dive, the report said.

When the F-16 dropped below 1,500 feet at 375 mph, he decided to eject. The Major made contact with other pilots around 19.32h local time on his emergency radio and was picked up by a Navy Rescue helicopter about 82 minutes later.