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Investigation reveals pilot who died in December 2020 crash in Upper Michigan was disoriented

The safety report says the pilot, Capt. Durwood “Hawk” Jones, lost his sense of location due to several factors, including loss of GPS and weather conditions.
The Wisconsin Air National Guard's 115th Fighter Wing identified the pilot who died in an F-16...
The Wisconsin Air National Guard's 115th Fighter Wing identified the pilot who died in an F-16 crash in Upper Michigan Dec. 8, 2020. The pilot was Air Force Capt. Durwood “Hawk” Jones, 37, of Albuquerque, New Mexico, who is survived by his wife and two children.(Wisconsin Air National Guard)
Updated: Jun. 10, 2021 at 5:49 PM EDT
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HIAWATHA NATIONAL FOREST, Mich. (WLUC) - A safety report investigation into an F-16 Fighting Falcon crash in Upper Michigan late last year has been released.

37-year-old pilot, Capt. Durwood “Hawk” Jones, of Albuquerque, New Mexico, was killed December 8, 2020, when his aircraft crashed into a remote part of the Hiawatha National Forest. He was flying over Upper Michigan in night training Aerospace Control Alert exercises with the 115th Fighter Wing, based out of Truax Field Air National Guard base in Wisconsin.

The safety report, dated for March 31, 2021, says Jones lost his sense of location while flying. The spatial disorientation likely developed after Jones’ aircraft lost accurate GPS coordinates, his fixation, and deteriorating weather conditions.

The report says Durwood’s “fixation on a minor system degrade detracted from the primary task of [flying].”

The report says, “the total destruction of the aircraft significantly limited the ability to analyze physical evidence” following this crash. The report’s conclusions are based on witness interviews, radar and other data, as well as the communications between the pilot and his team.

“I find, by a preponderance of the evidence, the cause of the mishap was the [pilot’s] failure to effectively recover from spatial disorientation,” said David W. Smith, Bridadier General, USAF (in his report) who serves as President of the Accident Investigation Board.

Jones left behind his wife and two young children. Click here to read the report from the Air Force Times.

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