Pilots blamed in June F-16 crash near Luke Air Force Base

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By Andrew Michalscheck By Andrew Michalscheck

PHOENIX (AP) -- A U.S. Air Force investigation into the June crash of an F-16 fighter at Luke Air Force Base west of Phoenix blames the pilots for allowing the jet to lose altitude and airspeed after it hit birds on takeoff.

The results released Thursday by the Air Force Air Education and Training Command in Texas says the pilot made an immediate turn after hitting several birds while taking off during a touch-and-go practice maneuver. That robbed the $22 million jet of airspeed and altitude and the pilots had to eject.

The plane crashed in a farm field, and the pilots were unhurt. They were not identified.

The report says the student pilot and instructor should have kept climbing straight ahead until they had enough airspeed to recover and return to the base.

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