Shaw AFB officials: accident "most certainly fatal"

By Live 5 News Staff email | twitter

SHAW AFB, SC (WCSC) - Officials at Shaw Air Force base Saturday night told a gaggle of media that the efforts to rescue Capt. Nicholas Giglio have been fruitless. The mission has been changed to one of recovery.

Col. Joe Guastella, commander of the 20th Fighter Wing, to which both jets were assigned, said today, "In spite of an intense search conducted by hundreds of professionals from the Coast Guard, Navy and Air Force, we have found no trace of Capt. Nicholas Giglio.

The colonel said teams from Charleston police, Charleston County sheriffs, and the Coast Guard spent an estimated 167 hours looking for Giglio. Guastella said investigators think parts on the bottom of the second plane pierced into the canopy of Giglio's plane Thursday night as they collided over the Atlantic.

They believe the pilot died on impact with the water and debris found in the water late Thursday night may not have been from the downed F-16.

[Read earlier coverage of this accident.]

Guasatella said the pilot never had the opportunity to eject.

Water where the plane was believed to have gone down is about 50 feet deep, some 40 miles off the coast of Folly Beach.

Giglio's jet went down after it collided with a second F-16 during night training maneuvers, according to a press release from Shaw Air Force Base in Sumter. The second jet was piloted by Capt. Lee Bryant. He landed at Charleston Air Force Base and is unharmed.

The single-seat planes were on a night training mission at roughly 19,000 feet Thursday when they collided at about 8:30 pm, said Senior Master Sgt. Brad Fallin with Shaw's public affairs office.

Guasatella said Giglio was "relatively new to F-16s," and that he was a "new guy on base." Giglio had only been flying the fighters jets about 18 months.

"We will make every effort to recover Captain Giglio's aircraft and his remains.  We are grateful to all those involved in the search effort," said the Shaw AFB commander.

Capt. Giglio is survived by a wife and a daughter. The family is expecting a second child.

The squadron will resume flights Tuesday.

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