UPDATE: NELLIS PILOT KILLED IN F-15D CRASH IDENTIFIED.
UPDATE 8-3-08 SEE THE LINK TO THE RIGHT TO VIEW CRASH SITE PHOTOS.
NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. - The pilot who died in an aircraft accident July 30 was identified as Lt. Col. Thomas Bouley in a press conference with Col. Russell Handy, 57th Wing commander. Colonel Bouley was the 65th Aggressor Squadron commander.
Colonel Bouley died when the U.S. Air Force F-15D Eagle, a two seater he was piloting, crashed on the Nevada Test and Training Range during a Red Flag training exercise July 30, 2008.
"Colonel Bouley had recently celebrated his 20th year wearing the uniform, and had more than 4,200 flight hours in the F-15 Eagle, the Royal Air Force F-3 Tornado, and the T-38 Talon," said Colonel Handy during the press conference. "He was a decorated warrior, an inspiring leader of Airmen, and a loving father and husband. He served his country with distinction and will be greatly missed."
The other pilot in the aircraft, a Royal Air Force exchange pilot, is in stable condition. His name is being withheld due to the ongoing investigation, but will be released when the accident investigation board completes its work.
Both pilots were assigned to the 65th Aggressor Squadron, whose mission is to simulate opposing enemy air forces during Red Flag exercises here.
"The investigation into this mishap began almost immediately. The Air Combat Command Accident Investigation Board will collect and protect evidence from the scene, and gather and analyze all relevant data," said Colonel Handy.
The accident investigation board is comprised of a board president who is a senior pilot, a maintenance expert, flight surgeon, judge advocate and any other needed specialists.
"As commander of this wing, the safety of our Airmen is at the top of my priority list," said Colonel Handy. "Protecting our nation's sons and daughters is a sacred trust, and we intend to do everything in our power to find the cause of this mishap so we may prevent it from happening again."
All aircraft units, with exception of the 64th and 65th Aggressor Squadrons, have continued flying operations. The 64th AGRS will resume flying missions Aug. 1, and the 65th AGRS will resume operations Aug. 4.
"Right now, we're focused on supporting Colonel Bouley's family and the men and women of the 65th AGRS," said Colonel Handy.
Red Flag, a realistic combat training exercise involving the air forces of the United States and its allies, is conducted on the vast bombing and gunnery ranges at Nellis AFB, Nev. It is one of a series of advanced training programs administered by the U.S. Air Force Warfare Center and Nellis, through the 414th Combat Training Squadron. Nellis is the busiest flying base in Air Combat Command, flying 42,000 sorties each year.
More information will be posted at www.nellis.af.mil
A military training mission ends in disaster for the crew of an F-15 fighter jet from Nellis Air Force Base. One pilot is confirmed dead and a second airman is hospitalized as of Wednesday night. The jet went down shortly before Noon on Wednesday in a remote corner of Nye County, about 180 miles north of Las Vegas.
It happened during a busy week at Nellis. Sixty-five airplanes this week are taking part in special exercises and war games known as "red flag." News 3's Steve Crupi has discovered that Wednesday's crash at Nellis occurred during one of those combat exercises where the mission was to simulate enemy aircraft.
The accident happened quickly. There was a plume of dark smoke as a rescue chopper moved in to airlift the victims, who were apparently ejected from the F-15 Eagle. There's no indication yet what caused the crash. The pilot who survived the crash could hopefully hold the key to explaining exactly what happened. The jet and crew were part of the 65th aggressor squadron.
Operations continued at Nellis Air Force Base Wednesday afternoon despite the crash. And a full investigation has been launched into what could have possibly gone wrong. This is the second week of red flag exercises, and F-15 aircraft play a vital role in the training missions. Pilots receive combat experience that is as close to the real thing as possible. Training includes complex tactical scenarios and aerial refueling maneuvers.
The activity at the airfield is always busy during red flag exercises, but most of the real action occurs far from the public's view over vast stretches of remote desert. In recent years, the F-15 has been involved in multiple fatal crashes, prompting a temporary grounding of all F-15s last year. Over the past three decades, dozens of airmen have died or suffered critical injuries during these red flag training missions. But the Air Force claims that the lives "saved" by this type of training far outweigh the casualties.
Thursday afternoon, Air Force officials have scheduled their first on-camera briefing with the media.
TRANSCRIPT: 57th Wing commander prepared statement
Nellis AFB Public Affairs
7/31/2008 - NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. -- Good afternoon. I'm Colonel Russ Handy, commander of the 57th Wing. As you know, an F-15D Eagle, flying in support of our Red Flag exercises, crashed on the Nevada Test and Training Range approximately 50 miles east of Goldfield, Nevada, at approximately 11:30 a.m. Wednesday. More importantly, we lost a fellow Airman, Lt. Col. Thomas Bouley - the commander of the 65th Aggressor Squadron here and the pilot of the F-15 that went down. Colonel Bouley had recently celebrated his 20th year wearing the uniform and had more than 4,500 flight hours in the F-15 Eagle, Royal Air Force F-3 Tornado and the T-38 Talon. He was a decorated warrior, an inspiring leader of Airmen, and a loving father and husband. He served his country with distinction and will be greatly missed. Our thoughts and prayers are with Colonel Bouley's family, his Air Force family, and all of his friends during this difficult time.
We also had another well-respected instructor pilot on board the aircraft yesterday...who we are relieved to say is recovering today at Mike O'Callaghan Federal Hospital, here on Nellis Air Force Base. He is an exchange pilot from the United Kingdom's Royal Air Force. He is working with and assisting the accident investigation board and his priority, of course, is to recover fully and devote his energy to supporting the investigation. For this reason, we are not able to release his name, nor provide interviews at this time. I can tell you he comes to us with extensive Royal Air Force Tornado F-3 experience and is now fully qualified in the F-16. He just recently began his assignment here with the 64th Aggressor Squadron and was receiving aggressor familiarization training during yesterday's flight.
He was recovered by base rescue crews and transported to our hospital where he spent the night for observation. Our thoughts are also with him and his family, and we wish him a very speedy recovery.
The investigation into this mishap began almost immediately. For the next several weeks, a trained Air Combat Command investigation board will focus their exclusive efforts on collecting and protecting evidence from the scene and gathering and analyzing all relevant data with the specific purpose of determining cause so we may prevent future mishaps. There is a fact sheet in your packet that describes this investigative process thoroughly. After the Accident Investigation Board concludes their process, its findings will be released by Air Combat Command.
Red Flag, as many of you may have noticed, is continuing. The value of the training we provide here at Nellis through exercises such as Red Flag is crucial to our success and the success of our allies in the current Global War on Terrorism and in preparing for future challenges. We know every day, when we put on this uniform, there are inherent risks in what we do... and we mitigate those risks as best we can. Nellis is the busiest flying base in our command, producing more than 42,000 sorties a year. As commander of this wing, the safety of our Airmen is at the top of my priority list. Protecting our nation's sons and daughters is a sacred trust, and we intend to do everything in our power to find the cause of this mishap so we may prevent it from happening again. Finally, we are extremely grateful to our local community. The support we have received has been terrific. Thank you.