The U.S. Air Force has identified the F-16CM Fighting Falcon pilot killed in a crash at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina on Tuesday night.
1st Lt. David Schmitz, of 77th Fighter Squadron, “died while conducting a training sortie here in South Carolina,” Col. Larry Sullivan, commander of the 20th Fighter Wing, said in a Facebook video.
The accident occurred around 11:30 p.m. The cause of the crash is under investigation.
In the video, Sullivan said that Schmitz received his pilot’s license at 17 years old, enlisted in the Air Force soon after and served as a loadmaster on the C-17 Globemaster III.
Schmitz supported “some of our nation’s most sensitive missions,” the commander said.
Schmitz pursued his dream of becoming a pilot, attended Officer Training School and graduated at the top of his class during pilot training, Sullivan said.
“Our condolences go out to the Schmitz family, the gamblers and to all of team Shaw,” he said, referring to the nickname of the 77th.
The latest accident marks the fourth crash of a U.S. Air Force fighter jet since May.
1st Lt. Kenneth “Kage” Allen died when his F-15C Eagle crashed off the coast of Great Britain during a routine training mission June 15. Allen was part of the 493rd Fighter Squadron, 48th Fighter Wing, at RAF Lakenheath, England.
An F-35A Lightning II, assigned to the 58th Fighter Squadron of the 33rd Fighter Wing, crashed on May 19 upon landing at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida. The pilot successfully ejected and was evaluated at the base hospital.
Separate investigations have been launched into each incident, officials have said.
-- Oriana Pawlyk can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at @Oriana0214.