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G-LOC caused F-16CJ accident

October 5, 2001 (by Lieven Dewitte) - Air Force investigators have determined that gravity-induced loss of consciousness (G-LOC) led to the July 6 crash of an F-16CJ off the coast of South Carolina.
The pilot, Capt. Mitchell A Bulmann, sustained fatal injuries while ejecting from the aircraft. The aircraft (#90-0815) was assigned to the 77th Fighter Squadron at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., and was on a training mission at the time of the accident. Bulmann's aircraft was the second F-16 in a formation of four F-16s.

According to an Air Combat Command Accident Investigation Report released today, there is clear and convincing evidence that the pilot suffered from G-LOC, resulting in the aircraft being put into unrecoverable flight. Although Bulmann regained consciousness long enough to eject, his aircraft was at a dangerous airspeed and attitude for ejection, resulting in fatal injuries. The aircraft hit the ocean off the coast of Charleston, S.C., and was destroyed.

The accident occurred during a sequence of basic flight maneuvers. Historical experience with G-LOC incidents indicates that pilots suffering from it are incapacitated for an average of 24 seconds. During that time, the victim may be unresponsive to external inputs.