An Air Force Safety Board investigation is underway, Col. Cory Simmons said at a press conference on Thursday

By Ashley Boucher
November 21, 2019 10:47 PM
Jet Crash
Credit: KOCO 5

Two Air Force Base airmen died during a training mission in Oklahoma on Thursday, though the cause of the fatal crash remains unknown.

The men died in an “aircraft mishap” involving two jets, each carrying two airmen, shortly after 9 a.m., the Air Force announced in a press release on Thursday.

While both airmen in one of the planes perished, the two men in the other aircraft were not hurt, Col. Corey Simmons said at a press conference later in the day, according to Air Force Times.

Footage of the aftermath captured by KOCO 5 News shows both planes, T-38 Talons, crashed in a field at the Vance Air Force Base in Enid, Oklahoma, which is about 65 miles northwest of Oklahoma City. One of the planes was upside down as a result of the crash.

Details as to what caused the crash and whether or not the planes collided in the air remain unknown, and Simmons said that an investigation by the Air Force Safety Board is currently underway, though it could take up to two months for the investigation to be completed.

“In a scenario like this, the information isn’t necessarily going to come out as fast as everybody wants,” Simmons said at the press conference, according to footage from CBS 42. “It’s just not.”

Simmons, who is the commander of the 71st Flying Training Wing, added that he wants to avoid speculation about what caused the crash.

“I don’t want to try to guess,” he said, according to Air Force Times. “I wasn’t out there when it happened.”

“I can say we have recovered the remains of our fallen,” he added. The names of the airmen killed on Thursday will not be released until 24 hours after their next of kin have been notified, per military protocol, Simmons said.

“We are a close-knit family, and when tragedies like this occur, every member of the U.S. military, Vance, Enid, feels it,” Simmons said at the press conference, Air Force Times reported.

Simmons concluded the press conference with gratitude for the outpouring of support that the Air Force community in Enid has experienced in the wake of the fatal crash.

“Right now, we’re all trying to heal,” Simmons said, adding that the immediate focus is to help the families of those who died.

“This doesn’t happen often,” he continued of the tragedy. “There’s no textbook on how to handle this. So we’ll do our best to be fantastic human beings and good airmen who will put our arms around other airmen.”