Air Force instructor dies after ejection seat goes off while plane is on the ground

An Air Force instructor pilot died Tuesday after the ejection seat of the plane he was in activated while the aircraft was on the ground, Sheppard Air Force Base in Texas said.

Capt. John Robertson of the 80th Operations Support Squadron was seriously injured in the incident at the base Monday and died Tuesday morning, base officials said in a statement.

The ejection seat of the T-6A Texan II aircraft went off when he was inside, the statement said.

The T-6A Texan II is a single-engine, two-seat plane used for training. No other injuries were announced. The accident occurred during “ground operations,” the statement said.

“This is a devastating loss for Captain Robertson’s family and loved ones, and for the entire 80th Flying Training Wing,” Col. Mitchell J. Cok, the acting wing commander, said in the statement. “Captain Robertson was a highly valued Airman and instructor pilot. Our deepest condolences go with all who knew and loved him.”

The base said that an interim safety board investigation was immediately formed and that a full Air Force Safety Investigation Board is expected to be in place later this week.

Robertson’s family was able to be by his side at a hospital when he died, which Cok attributed to the medical efforts of staff members in the area, as well as other first responders and hospital staff members who provided care for him.

Sheppard Air Force Base is just north of Wichita Falls, Texas. It is an Air Force training installation, and it says on its website that it is the only Air Force base that offers both technical and flying training.

The T-6A Texan II is a turboprop plane used to teach basic flying. Ejection seats are designed to propel people clear of flying aircraft that are in distress so they can parachute to safety.

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