52nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs
4/2/2011 - SPANGDAHLEM AIR BASE, Germany -- An Air Force A-10 Thunderbolt II crashed approximately 4 p.m. Central European Time April 1 in a field outside Laufeld, Germany, a town north of the city of Wittlich.
The pilot, Lt. Col. Scott Hurrelbrink from the 81st Fighter Squadron at Spangdahlem Air Base, ejected from the aircraft and sustained minor injuries. He was transported from the scene and is in good condition at Krankenhaus der Barmherzigen Bruder, a hospital in Trier, Germany.
German emergency responders were the first to the scene, followed by medical personnel who transported the pilot to the hospital via helicopter. U.S. Air Force first responders and the on-scene commander arrived shortly thereafter and coordinated cohesively with German counterparts to secure the mishap site. German military police and Spangdahlem security forces remain on scene providing 24/7 site security.
"Joint mishap response between Spangdahlem Airmen and German counterparts and neighbors is something we've continually worked on for over 50 years. This mishap response is an outstanding example of our German-American teamwork and professionalism in action -- everyone's actions were swift, deliberate and effective helping ensure the safety and well-being of our pilot and our surrounding community," said 52nd Fighter Wing Commander Col. Christopher P. Weggeman. "While this is a very unfortunate incident, we all are extremely grateful that Lieutenant Colonel Hurrelbrink is OK and the aircraft impacted in a field away from Laufeld proper."
The pilot was returning to base from a local routine training mission at the time of the mishap. The aircraft had training ammunition on board. A Spangdahlem Explosive Ordnance Disposal team has secured the site and has positive control on training munitions. The 52nd Medical Group Bioenvironmental Engineer Flight is also on-scene and has tested for dangerous petroleum hydrocarbon levels and possible contaminates from the aircraft's jet fuel on site and downwind of the crash site. All findings are within normal limits.
The single-crewmember A-10 Thunderbolt II entered service in 1975 and underwent a significant avionics and mission-systems update in September 2007. The 81st FS received A-10 Thunderbolt IIs in 1994, and since then have participated in operations Deny Flight, Southern Watch, Allied Force and Enduring Freedom, as well as supported NATO's International Security Assistance Force operations.
From 2005 to 2010, there were only three major A-10 mishaps and no related fatalities.
"Safety is always a primary consideration during mission planning and flight execution. U.S. Air Force pilots are trained from the beginning of their flying training experience to ensure the safety of personnel in the air and on the ground. Safety is a primary discussion topic in pre-flight briefings for every mission and permeates all aspects of the flight," said 52nd Operations Group Commander Col. Jackson Fox. "Pilots receive extensive training on aircraft dynamics and flight control. They use this knowledge to safely maneuver the aircraft away from populated areas, if at all possible."
Colonel Fox has complete confidence in the training and professionalism of all assigned 52nd Fighter Wing A-10 pilots, and their track-record of flying performance at home and in combat has been nothing short of exceptional, he said.
A Safety Investigation Board will convene to investigate the cause of the mishap. Results of this investigation will be strictly used for further mishap prevention purposes. Base leadership will not speculate on the cause of this mishap.
Eye witnesses with accounts or photos of the mishap are asked to call 49-6565-61-5245. The telephone line will be manned 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. CET daily.
Additional details will be provided as they become available.
The entire Warthog News team is glad to hear that A-10C pilot Lt. Col. Scott Hurrelbrink is in good condition.