October 21, 2017

Air Force Pilot Unable to Eject, Crashes

An Air Force pilot who was killed in an training exercise in late June was unable to eject from the plane before it crashed, according a U.S. Air Force investigation.


Air Force Pilot Unable to Eject, Crashes

Captain Eric Ziegler took off from Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, 7 miles north of Las Vegas, in an F-16C Fighting Falcon before it crashed 20 miles west of Caliente, Nevada on June 28. He was in a “”dogfight”" training exercise when the crash happened.

According to Brigadier General T.J. O’Shaughnessy, the commander of the 57th Wing at Nellis, Ziegler was conducting a simulated air-to-air combat exercise and was not able to eject in time before the crash. The crash occurred about 5:30 P.M., followed by extensive helicopter search and rescue efforts conducted throughout the next two days. Ziegler’s death was confirmed by the Air Force officials on June 30. The exact cause of the crash has yet to be determined, according to authorities.

“For the next several weeks, a trained investigation board will focus its exclusive efforts on collecting and protecting evidence from the scene and gathering and analyzing all relevant data with the specific purpose of determining the cause so we may prevent future mishaps,” said O’Shaughnessy.

Ziegler, a native of Fargo, North Dakota, graduated from West Fargo High School in 1999. He was remembered as a natural leader as a member of the West Fargo football team, helping them to the North Dakota State Football Championship in 1999.

He graduated from the Air Force Academy in 2003, and logged more than 1,200 flight hours in the United States, Kusan Air Base, South Korea, and Spangdahlem Air Base in Germany. Ziegler also served two tours in Iraq. He earned a master’s degree in 2010, and was awarded an Aerial Achievement Medal and the Air Medal with three oak leaf clusters. Before the crash, Ziegler was picked to attend an elite weapons school at Nellis, according to base officials.

Ziegler was the father of an eight month old daughter, Anna, and was married to another Fargo native, Sarah, who also works for the Air Force at Nellis. A private memorial service is planned for Tuesday, July 5, at the base.


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