According to the Sheppard AFB public affairs office in Wichita Falls, Texas, a T-6 trainer jet crashed shortly before 2 PM on Wednesday, May 1st, near Lake Waurika, Oklahoma. The office reports that it appears as though both pilots ejected.
While Sheppard AFB has not named a cause of the incident, one look at the weather radar gives a clear sign: Severe Weather. A tornado was reported within the vicinity at 2:08 PM, as well as reports of baseball-sized hail within the hour.
A T-6 trainer aircraft from Sheppard AFB, Texas crashed near Lake Waurika, Oklahoma on May 1st, 2019, shortly before 2 PM. This 4-panel radar image shows the approximate location (Lake Waurika is centered on the four panels). Severe weather was ongoing during the incident time in the local vicinity - including multiple tornado warnings issued by the National Weather Service (purple boxes).
While it is unclear exactly what caused the aircraft to crash, severe weather is certainly in the question. This particular thunderstorm complex contained storm tops above 50,000 feet - almost twice as high as the service ceiling of a T-6 aircraft.
Additionally, thunderstorms are packed with aviation weather hazards - enough so that the National Weather Service's Aviation Weather Center warns aviators of them in advisories known as "SIGMETs", or SIGnificant METeorological information, and pilots tend to navigate around these areas.
In this case, strong updrafts and downdrafts (likely on the order of several thousand feet per minute) were likely around these storms, causing extreme turbulence. and damaging wind gusts - enough to take down even large airliners. Large hail (up to 2.5 inches in diameter) was also reported, as well as a tornado within close proximity, according to data procured from the National Weather Service. Heavy rain combined with this hail would have most likely reduced flight visibility to instrument conditions - or less than one mile.
The US Air Force also retains it's own aviation meteorologists, although they are not explicitly bound to Aviation Weather Center & National Weather Service forecasts - leading to often very confusing, inconsistent forecasts for military aviators.
This is a developing story.
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