On Friday, June 22nd, 2018, an A-29 Super Tucano light attack plane crashed on the Red Rio Bombing and Gunnery Range located north of Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico. The USAF's second phase of the Light Attack Experiment was set to officially begin later that day at Holloman, in which the AT-6 and A-29 would demonstrate their capabilities. The A-29 crashed before the maneuvers began and we heard one of its two crew escaped the incident with minor injuries, with no further information being released about the second flyer's condition. Sadly, we now have confirmation that the second crewman died as a result of the mishap.
The pilot was identified by the U.S. Navy as Lt. Christopher Casey Short from Canandaigua, New York. In an official statement, Col. Houston Cantwell, commander of Holloman's 49th Wing, said:
"There's no way to describe the shock of this loss and the sadness we feel for his family. He did pioneering work in aviation that will help shape American air power for years to come. We're thankful to have known him and grateful for his devotion to duty."
Short's Facebook page has pictures of him flying F/A-18s and a number of photos of VFC-12 "Fighting Omars" aggressor Hornets, which belong to the Navy Reserve. Often times Navy Reserve pilots work for contractors in a flying role, which would make sense in this case although we have no definitive information at this point of this being the case. Regardless, this is a terrible loss to the Sierra Nevada Corporation/Embraer and Navy families to which Short belonged to.
The accident is under investigation and we don't even know the nature of mishap at this time. The A-29 is a proven light attack platform that serves in often harsh conditions for a number of operators around the globe. The USAF flies the aircraft to training foreign students, namely those of the Afghan Air Force. One USAF A-29 crash did occur in 2017 that involved an A-29 losing power, resulting in both pilots ejecting. Nobody died in that incident.
The crash is certain to loom large over the USAF's Light Attack Experiment and a struggling initiative to field either the A-29 or the AT-6 to Air Force combat squadrons. The USMC is also looking to procure a similar aircraft but for somewhat different purposes. In fact, at this time we don't even know if the second flight demonstration phase of the program will continue at Holloman AFB in the coming week.
We will keep you informed as new info becomes available, but in the meantime, our deepest condolences go out to the Lieutenant's family, friends, squadron mates, and co-workers.
Contact the author: Tyler@thedrive.com