October 23, 1997 in Nation/World

T-38 Trainer, F-16 Collide; 2 Crewmen Killed Fighter Lands Safely; Collision Follows Recent ‘Stand-Down’ Order

John Horn Associated Press

A training jet collided with an F-16 fighter Wednesday over Edwards Air Force Base and crashed in the Mojave Desert, killing two crewmen - one British, one American.

The F-16, with two Americans aboard, landed safely on a dry lake bed at the base. The crew members were not hurt.

The T-38 Talon is a two-seat training jet used by pilots to learn supersonic techniques, aerobatics, formation and navigation. The crewmen - Air Force Lt. Col. William R. Nusz and Royal Air Force Flight Lt. Leigh Alexander Fox, who was participating in a pilot exchange program - were killed.

‘There was an attempt at ejection,” said Lt. Col. Bob Williams, a base spokesman, adding that the bodies were found several miles away from the wreckage.

“They did see a chute,” added Maj. Felecia Tavares, an Air Force spokeswoman at the Pentagon.

Edwards is in Southern California and home to the Air Force Test Pilot School, which tests military planes, including experimental aircraft, and is also a space shuttle landing site.

The collision happened just after 10 a.m. The planes were operating as chase planes on a photographic support mission for a B-1B test bombing run.

The F-16 that landed safely had minor wing damage. Those on board were Lt. Col. Richard Stevens and Capt. Nicole Blatt.

The collision comes weeks after Defense Secretary William Cohen ordered all branches of the military to hold a 24-hour safety “stand-down” and review their training procedures after a rash of air crashes.

It was the first-ever suspension of all military pilot training.

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