Body of 2nd pilot found in desert
Date:Sunday, October 27 @ 00:00:30 MDT
Topic:Valley and State

HILL AIR FORCE BASE -- Searchers have found the remains of a pilot who crashed his F-16 in the desert following a midair collision, the Air Force said on Saturday.

The body of the pilot, whose name was not released, was found several miles from where the two planes collided,said Col. Steve Hoog, commander of the 388th Fighter Wing.

"Our hearts and prayers go out to the young pilot," Hoog said. "Our next focus is to figure out the how and why behind this accident."

A second pilot, Capt. David Roszmann, ejected safely from his craft. He was rescued, taken to a clinic at Hill Air Force Base in Ogden and released in good condition Friday evening, the Air Force said.

The pilots were flying a combat training mission in a four-jet formation over the Utah Test and Training Range, a barren expanse of desert west of Salt Lake City that extends to the Nevada border.

The planes collided about 25 miles southeast of Wendover, Nev. None of the jets was carrying weapons.

Hoog said the single-seat fighter jets were involved in "realistic" combat training when the planes collided. "I have flown with both of these pilots, they are great young Americans," Hoog said.

The missing pilot was found Saturday afternoon after an extensive search. It was unclear whether he had deployed his ejection seat.

"The ejection seat is your option of last resort. I'm not sure what happened in his airplane," Hoog said.

Search teams found the wreckage of both planes about two miles apart, but couldn't find the second pilot, whose jet was badly damaged and burning, with debris spread over a wide area, Sgt. Sonja Whittington said.

The fighter jets collided in midair at about 2:53 p.m. Friday over the vast, barren Utah Test and Training Range, about 150 miles west of Salt Lake City. They were part of a four-jet formation flying over 2,624 square miles of restricted airspace.

F-16 mishaps in Utah have been rare since 1998, when one F-16 pilot was killed and others were injured in five accidents involving six planes. In one of those accidents, a pair of F-16s collided over western Utah, leaving the pilots with minor injuries. The spate of accidents in 1998 prompted the reassignment of the then-wing commander.

Most recently, an F-16 crashed after an aborted takeoff Oct. 17, 2001 at Hill Air Force Base. That pilot suffered only scrapes and bruises.

The 388th Fighter Wing is the largest unit at Hill Air Force Base. The wing deploys and supports F-16s worldwide. It was the first to fly the F-16 when the Air Force introduced the aircraft in 1979.

Built by Lockheed Martin Corp., the F-16 is designed for air-to-air or air-to-surface combat. The two models used today are the F-16C, a one-seat model, and the F-16D, a two-seater.

They can reach speeds of 1,500 mph and fly at altitudes higher than 50,000 feet. They can be equipped with as many as six air-to-air missiles or air-to-surface munitions.

The newest models cost $18.8 million in 1998.