Wednesday, June 24, 2009

US Air Force Pilot Dies in Utah F-16 Accident

News in Balance

News in Balance:

HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah, June 24, 2009 -- Hill Air Force Base officials confirmed an F-16 Fighting Falcon pilot was killed at about 10:25 p.m. June 21 after the aircraft crashed on the Utah Test and Training Range about 35 miles south of Wendover, Utah.

The pilot, Capt. George Bryan Houghton, 28, from the 388th Fighter Wing here, graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy in 2002.

When the mishap occurred, the pilot was part of a four-ship formation of F-16s flying a close-air-support mission that involved training with ground forces. The wing temporarily ceased flying operations. Flight operations have since resumed.

Captain Houghton is a native of Candler, N.C.

"We can now confirm that we have lost a fellow pilot," said Col. Scott Dennis, the 388th Fighter Wing commander, during a press conference June 22. "After several hours of search and rescue efforts, we have identified the pilot at the crash site."

Colonel Dennis said the immediate family was notified and the Air Force's first priority was to support the pilot's family and the Air Force's family during this time.

"I want to thank everyone for their outpouring of support. I just ask that you keep the pilot's family in your thoughts and prayers," he said. "Every time we fly a training or combat mission, the safety of our people is a top priority. We lost an irreplaceable member of our Air Force. We will do all we can to determine the cause of the mishap to ensure we are doing everything possible to keep our military members free from harm."

A board of officials will convene to determine the cause of the incident.

(Report from a U.S. Air Force news release.)

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