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Report: Downed USAF pilot died in mountain crash

Wednesday - 8/28/2013, 11:21am  ET

BROCK VERGAKIS
Associated Press

NORFOLK, Va. -- An Air Force investigative report says an F-16 pilot died in Afghanistan this April when his fighter jet crashed into a mountain that he couldn't see while he was returning to base.

The report released by Air Combat Command says 29-year-old Capt. James Michael Steel crashed about 12 miles outside of Bagram Air Field on April 3. When the accident occurred, Steel was returning from a nighttime combat mission supporting ground forces.

The report says Steel flew into a mountainous area obscured by weather conditions and did not attempt to eject before slamming into the mountain. The report says the aircraft gave low-altitude warnings, but Steel didn't take timely corrective action.

Steel is from Tampa, Fla., and was assigned to the 77th Fighter Squadron at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C.


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