An Air Force pilot instructor has died after a tragic accident at Sheppard Air Force Base in Wichita Falls.

Captain John Robertson sustained severe injuries when a plane's ejection seat activated while on-ground, according to the USAF. The aircraft involved is a T-6A Texan II.

Captain Robertson was an instructor pilot with the 80th Operations Support Squadron.


It is not yet known exactly what happened to trigger the ejection sequence in the aircraft. The ejection process requires that the catapult, the rocket, the restraints, and the parachute all fire in the correct sequence, and that the canopy/ hatch is blown clear of the plane. This video explains it, but be forewarned it does show footage of planes crashing, which may be distressing to some.

Generally speaking, the ejection requires that a handle be pulled by the pilot to trigger the sequence. However, defects have been found in ejection systems before:

In 2022, the T-6 fleet and hundreds of other Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps jets were grounded after inspections revealed a potential defect with one component of the ejection seat's cartridge actuated devices, or CADs.

Col. Mitchell J. Cok, the acting wing commander, commended the efforts of on-site responders who did everything they could to save Captain John Robertson- efforts that allowed his family to be at his side before he died of his injuries. He also spoke highly of Captain John Robertson as a valued serviceman and talented pilot instructor.

Once the investigation is complete, the findings will be released and hopefully, this tragic accident will never be repeated.

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