F-16s Collide Over The Atlantic One Pilot Missing





F-16s Collide Over The Atlantic One Pilot Missing

By Bill Goldston (Update)



Two F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft, like the one shown here, from Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., collided during night training exercises Oct. 15 over the Atlantic Ocean about 40 miles east of Folly Beach, S.C. One aircraft landed safely. The second aircraft and the pilot, Capt. Nicholas Giglio, are missing and a search is underway.

October 17, 2009, Coast Guard searchers found crash debris Oct. 16 in the Atlantic Ocean believed to belong to a missing Air Force pilot's F-16 Fighting Falcon that collided Oct. 15 with another F-16 near the South Carolina coast during a night-training exercise, said an Air Force spokesman.  "The Coast Guard has found some debris in the ocean that is apparently from our missing F-16," said Robert Sexton, the Shaw Air Force Base Public Affairs chief in Sumter, S.C.  

"They have not yet found any sign of the pilot and the search continues," Mr. Sexton said. No one witnessed what happened to Captain Giglio after the collision.  The incident, he said, occurred during a routine night-training mission.  Foul weather, including rain and fog, hindered the Coast Guard's search for Captain Giglio, Mr. Sexton said.  

"The Coast Guard is doing an absolutely incredible job of running the search and rescue mission," he said. "We're just tremendously grateful for the assistance of the Coast Guard, the Navy, Charleston Air Force Base (and) all of the other agencies that are participating in the search and rescue."


Shaw Air Force Base, S.C. -- Two F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft collided during night training exercises on Thursday over the Atlantic Ocean about 40 miles east of Folly Beach, S.C. Captain Nicholas Giglio, from the 20th Fighter Wing, and his aircraft are missing and a search is underway. The second F-16, piloted by Capt. Lee Bryant, was able to land safely at Charleston AFB, S.C. Captain Bryant was unharmed. A board of officers will investigate the accident. As additional details become available, they will be released. 

Aircraft and surface vessels of the U.S. Coast Guard are combing the ocean east of Charleston. Coast Guard rescue crews have been searching for a missing Air Force Pilot involved in a collision with another military aircraft 30-mile northeast of Charleston. Missing is Air Force Capt. Nicholas Giglio of the 20th Fighter Wing of Shaw Air Force Base, S.C. Giglio’s F-16 collided with a second F-16 at approximately 8:30 p.m. Thursday. Shaw AFB notified the Coast Guard to assist in the search for the missing pilot. 

An HH-65C Dolphin rescue helicopter crew from Air Station Savannah, Ga., a C-130 Hercules fixed-wing aircraft crew from Air Station Clearwater, Fla., the Charleston based 87-foot Coast Guard Cutter Yellowfin, rescue boat crews from Station Georgetown, S.C., and Station Charleston have been searching since Thursday.


The Lockheed Martin F-16 Fighting Falcon is a multirole jet fighter aircraft originally developed by General Dynamics for the United States Air Force. Designed as a lightweight, daytime Visual Flight Rules (VFR) fighter, it evolved into a successful multirole aircraft. The Falcon's versatility is a paramount reason it has proven a success on the export market, having been selected to serve in the air forces of 25 nations.   

The F-16 is the largest Western jet fighter program with over 4,400 aircraft built since production was approved in 1976. Though no longer being purchased by the U.S. Air Force, advanced versions are still being built for export customers. In 1993, General Dynamics sold its aircraft manufacturing business to the Lockheed Corporation, which in turn became part of Lockheed Martin after a 1995 merger with Martin Marietta.  

The Fighting Falcon is a dogfighter with numerous innovations including a frameless, bubble canopy for better visibility, side-mounted control stick to ease control while under high g-forces, and reclined seat to reduce the effect of g-forces on the pilot.  

The F-16 has an internal M61 Vulcan cannon and has 11 hardpoints for mounting various missiles, bombs and pods. It was also the first fighter aircraft deliberately built to sustain 9-g turns. It has a thrust-to-weight ratio greater than one, providing power to climb and accelerate vertically — if necessary. Although the F-16's official name is "Fighting Falcon", it is known to its pilots as the "Viper", due to it resembling a cobra snake and after the Battlestar Galactica starfighter. It is used by the Thunderbirds air demonstration team. 

The F-16 is scheduled to remain in service with the U.S. Air Force until 2025. The planned replacement is the F-35 Lightning II, which will gradually begin replacing a number of multirole aircraft among the air arms of the program's member nations.

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