Wicker Statement on Crash of NAS Meridian-Based Training Jet

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, R-Miss., Chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Seapower, which has jurisdiction over the Navy and naval aviation, today issued this statement after the Navy confirmed that an instructor and a student pilot based in Meridian, Miss., have died as a result of a plane crash:

“I am deeply saddened to learn that two of our nation’s best have been taken from us. I offer my condolences to their families and fellow service members. May God grant peace to their loved ones during this very difficult time. The Navy should conduct an immediate investigation into what caused this tragedy.”

In April, Wicker conducted a field hearing with Navy officials and pilots stationed at the Naval Air Station in Meridian to discuss safety issues with the T-45 training jets used at the base. Wicker also met with Navy personnel in his Washington office following reports that some Navy instructor pilots were exercising their right to opt out of training flights because of these potential safety issues.

Wicker was successful in adding a provision to this year’s defense bill to help military officials identify the cause of these physiological episodes (PE). The plan would authorize the Secretary of Defense to offer a $10 million prize – similar to the XPrize – to incentivize the brightest minds in academia and industry to help find the root cause or causes of PE.