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Sun, May 24, 2009

Edwards AFB T-38 Crash Claimed Life of TPS Pilot

Test Pilot School Trainee Lost In Talon Accident

As previously reported, an Air Force test pilot student died May 21 when his jet trainer crashed north of Edwards Air Force Base.

Captain Mark P. Graziano, 30, died when the T-38A Talon he was piloting crashed about nine miles north of the base here, near California City, Calif. Captain Graziano was assigned to the U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School, where he was undergoing training to become a test pilot.

His crew member, Maj. Lee V. Jones, was injured upon ejecting from the aircraft. He was transported to Kern Medical Center in Bakersfield, Calif., where he is listed in stable condition. Major Jones, a senior navigator, is also assigned to the U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School, undergoing test navigator training.

"We are shocked and saddened by this sudden loss and our hearts and prayers go out to Mark's family and loved ones," said Col. Terry M. Luallen, U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School commandant. "We are doing all we can to support Mark's family during this trying time."

At approximately 1:15 p.m. Thursday the base was notified that a TPS aircraft had gone down near California City. Emergency responders from the base and Kern County arrived at the scene where they found Jones near the crash site, and transported him to Kern Medical Center. Graziano was pronounced dead at the scene.

The T-38 Talon is a twin-engine, high-altitude, supersonic jet trainer used in a variety of roles because of its design, economy of operations, ease of maintenance, high performance and exceptional safety record. Air Education and Training Command is the primary user of the T-38 for joint specialized undergraduate pilot training. Air Combat Command, Air Force Materiel Command and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration also use the T-38A in various roles. Test pilots and flight test engineers are trained in T-38s at the U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. Air Force Materiel Command uses the T-38 to test experimental equipment such as electrical and weapon systems.

A board of officers is investigating the accident.

FMI: www.edwards.af.mil

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