Las Vegas Sun

November 27, 2022

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Pilot error cited in mid-air crash

The March 17 mid-air collision of two Air Force fighter jets 65 miles northeast of Las Vegas was caused by pilot error, military officials announced Friday.

Capt. Mike Zamiska misjudged the position of Maj. Steve Early's F-15 and clipped the wing of Early's plane, the investigation concluded. Zamiska ejected from his $31 million aircraft, which was destroyed when it plunged into the desert.

Early was able to land at Nellis Air Force Base despite $479,632 in damage to his plane.

The pilots were participating in air-to-air combat maneuvers with a third plane when the accident happened, according to a report released by Air Combat Command.

Zamiska, "misjudged his leader's position and failed to coordinate his flight path after taking a simulated shot at the bandit," the report states.

Both pilots and their planes are assigned to the 422nd Test and Evaluation Squadron at Nellis.

Now that a cause of the crash has been determined, Zamiska's commanding officer will determine what, if any, disciplinary action will be taken against Zamiska.

Human error was also the cause of a Dec. 4 collision of two A-10 Thunderbolt IIs over the Nevada Test and Training Range in December that resulted in the death of one of the pilots.

Capt. Eric Palaro, a pilot who was assigned to the 52nd Fighter Wing at Spangdahlem Air Base in Germany, was killed after he reportedly lost sight of the formation he was flying in and collided with another A-10.

Scott Kniep, an instructor with the Air Force Weapons School at Nellis, ejected safely from the second A-10 involved in the collision.

That crash destroyed both of those planes, which are valued at $9.8 million apiece.