Air Force pilot dies after his ejection seat activated

The incident happened during ground operations, and Capt. John Robertson succumbed to his injuries the next day.
Pilot Killed
Posted at 10:40 AM, May 15, 2024

An Air Force instructor pilot is dead due to injuries sustained when an ejection seat activated.

Sheppard Air Force Base in Texas said the incident happened Monday during ground operations.

The base said Capt. John Robertson of the 80th Operations Support Squadron had been in a T-6A Texan II aircraft on the ground when his ejection seat activated — causing him serious injuries.

Security, fire and medical personnel performed life-saving measures following the accident.

The next day, Sheppard Air Force Base announced that Robertson succumbed to his injuries.

"This is a devastating loss for Captain Robertson's family and loved ones, and for the entire 80th Flying Training Wing," said Col. Mitchell J. Cok, the acting wing commander, in a press release. "Captain Robertson was a highly valued Airman and instructor pilot. Our deepest condolences go with all who knew and loved him."

Cok also thanked emergency responders and staff who rushed to his aid.

"We are thankful for the M1 maintenance team who immediately provided live-sustaining care, and for the heroic efforts of the security forces, fire and medical personnel here on base and at United Regional Hospital. Their efforts allowed time for Captain Robertson's family to be at his side when he passed,” Cok said.

The T-6A Texan II is a two-seater aircraft commonly used for training purposes for Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps pilots, according to The Associated Press. Both seats have ejection seats, which are operated by an attached handle.

The base said an interim safety board investigation was launched immediately after the accident. A full Air Force Safety Investigation Board should be in place later this week.

The board will release a report when the investigation is complete, said the base.

Sheppard Air Force Base is home to the 80th and 82nd flight training wings.