NTSB releases preliminary report on collision of Cessna and F-16

NTSB releases preliminary report on collision of Cessna and F-16
Major Aaron Johnson (Photo source: Linkedin)
Major Aaron Johnson (Photo source: Linkedin)

MONCKS CORNER, SC (WCSC) - The National Transportation Safety Board has released a preliminary report in connection to the collision of a Cessna C-150 and an F-16, killing a father and son.

Michael Johnson, 68, and his son, Joseph Johnson, 30, died on Tuesday in the collision over Berkeley County, according to Berkeley County Coroner Bill Salisbury.

According the report, the information released is only preliminary, is subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in the report will be corrected when the final report has been completed, according to the NTSB.

The NTSB says investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare the aircraft accident report.

The report confirms that the Cessna departed from Berkeley County Airport in Moncks Corner, and was traveling to Grand Strand Airport in North Myrtle Beach.

The following information is provided in the report:

  • On July 7, 2015, at 1100 eastern daylight time, a Cessna 150M, N3601V, and a Lockheed-Martin F-16CM, operated by the U.S. Air Force (USAF), collided in midair near Moncks Corner, South Carolina.
  • The Cessna was destroyed during the collision, and both the private pilot and passenger were fatally injured.
  • The damaged F-16 continued to fly for an additional 3 minutes until the pilot activated the airplane's ejection system.
  • The F-16 was destroyed following the subsequent collision with terrain and post-impact fire, while the pilot ejected safely and was uninjured.
  • Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the Cessna, while the F-16 was operating on an instrument flight rules flight plan.

According to the USAF, after departing from SSC, the F-16 proceeded to Myrtle Beach International Airport (MYR), Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, where the pilot conducted two practice instrument approaches before continuing the flight to Charleston Air Force Base/International Airport (CHS), Charleston, South Carolina.

The report also states that at 10:57, a radar target displayed information later correlated to be the Cessna in the vicinity of the departure end of the runway at Berkeley County Airport.

The Cessna did not contact Charleston Air Force Base/ International Airport (CHS), and was not required to do so.

  • At 1100:26, the controller advised the F-16 pilot, "turn left heading 180 if you don't have that traffic in sight." The pilot responded by asking, "confirm 2 miles?" Eight seconds later, the controller stated, "if you don't have that traffic in sight turn left heading 180 immediately." Over the next 18 seconds, the track of the F-16 began turning southerly.
  • At 1100:49, the radar target of the F-16 was located 1/2 nautical mile northeast of the Cessna, at an indicated altitude of 1,500 feet, and was on an approximate track of 215 degrees. At that time, the Cessna reported an indicated altitude of 1,400 feet, and was established on an approximate track of 110 degrees.
  • At 1100:52 the controller advised the F-16 pilot, "traffic passing below you 1,400 feet." At 1100:54, the radar reported altitude of the F-16 remained at 1,500 feet and no valid altitude information was returned for the radar target associated with the Cessna.
  • At 1101:19, the F-16 pilot transmitted a distress call, and no subsequent transmissions were received. Air traffic control radar continued to track the F-16 as it proceeded on a roughly southerly track, and after descending to an indicated altitude of 300 feet, radar contact was lost at 1103:17 in the vicinity of the F-16 crash site.

The report confirms the wreckage of the Cessna was recovered over the west branch of the Cooper River. Components from both airplanes were strewn over the area to the north and west of that point. The largest portion found was the Cessna's airframe, including a relatively intact portion of the fuselage aft of the main landing gear, and both the left and right wing.

  • The lower aft engine of the F-16 was recovered near the Cessna's aft fuselage.
  • The F-16 wreckage site was located about 6 nautical miles south of the Cessna wreckage site.
  • The wreckage displayed significant ground impact and post-impact fire-related damage.
  • Weather conditions reported at MKS at 1055 included calm wings, 10 statute miles visibility, scattered clouds, and a temperature of 30 degrees C.

The preliminary reports can be found on the NTSB website.

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