RINGWOOD, Okla. — A T-38C Talon jet trainer from Vance Air Force Base lost its canopy during a routine mission Monday over the Ringwood area.
The pilots landed the plane safely at Vance and both were unharmed, according to a news release from Vance Public Affairs. Following protocol, the pilots were evaluated at the 71st Medical Group on base.
The canopy was found later in the afternoon, according to Vance officials, who earlier had asked area residents to keep a look out for the part.
“We train our pilots to be the best in the world and thoroughly prepare them for any kind of emergency,” said Col. Jay Johnson, 71st Flying Training Wing commander. “Our airmen are our most important resource. We train our pilots to expect the unexpected and this is an outstanding example of our pilots showcasing their skills.”
The cause of the incident is under investigation.
Previously, a T-38 lost its front canopy in June 2015 about 10 miles south of Vance, while another T-38 lost its canopy in 2010. A T-6 Texan II lost its canopy in 2012. All three of those aircraft also returned safely to Vance.
The T-38 is a twin-engine, high-altitude, supersonic jet trainer. It has been in service since 1959. The first T-38 arrived at Vance in April 1963.
The T-38 is scheduled to be replaced by the T-7A Red Hawk.
A $9.2 billion contract awarded to Boeing in September 2018 calls for 351 T-7A aircraft, 46 simulators and associated ground equipment to be delivered and installed Air Force-wide, replacing Air Education and Training Command’s fleet of T-38C Talons.
The first T-7A aircraft and simulators are scheduled to arrive at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph, Texas, in 2023, according to the Air Force in a statement in 2019. All undergraduate pilot training bases eventually will transition from the T-38C to the T-7A. Those bases include Vance; Columbus AFB, Miss.; and Laughlin AFB and Sheppard AFB, Texas.