Nov. 16, Bradenton, Fla. / Lockheed-Martin F-16 and Cessna Skyhawk


At about 15:48 eastern time, an Air Force F-16CG and a Cessna 172 collided in flight near Bradenton. The pilot of the F-16 ejected and was unhurt. The pilot of the 172 was killed. The F-16 was one of two airplanes operating on a low altitude training mission, and had filed a composite military IFR/VFR flight plan. The 172 had just taken off from Sarasota Bradenton International Airport en route to St. Petersburg and was in radio contact with Tampa Approach. Tampa cleared the pilot to climb from 1,600 to 3,500, which he acknowledged. The controller alerted the Cessna pilot to the fighter traffic 55 seconds later, but the pilot did not respond. The two F-16s had departed Moody Air Force Base about 30 minutes earlier. Miami Center cleared the flight to descend to 13,000 feet and instructed the flight leader to contact Tampa Approach. The leader could not establish contact and called Miami Center to cancel IFR. Miami Center advised him of the Cessna traffic. The two fighters conducted a g awareness check, accelerating to 400 knots and making a right 90-degree turn, followed by a left 90-degree turn back on course and continued the descent. Miami Center lost the F-16s radar signal and called Tampa Approach to determine the F-16s altitude. Tampa saw the aircraft at 2,000 feet. The F-16s continued the descent to about 5 to 6 miles north of the entry point for VR1098. The flight leader saw his wingman and the Cessna collide in a left-to-left impact.


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