on Jul. 21, 2019, U.S. Air Force Viper Demo Team’s F-16C 96-0080 Suffers Horizontal Stabilizer Damage During Display Flight at 2019 Royal International Air Tattoo
Few minutes into the display (the first of RIAT Sunday program), Maj. Garret Schmitz, pilot and commander of the Demo Team, stopped his routine and declared an emergency. He climbed to higher altitude while assessing the problem then flew over the runway, with gear down at low speed, for a visual inspections before coming to a final safe landing.
The pilot then did an emergency landing with flight control issues.
The mishap could have been caused by delamination of the right horizontal stabilizer caused by pulling too many G’s.
Noteworthy as the video in this post shows the F-16 suffered damage to the trailing edge of the right horizontal stabilizer/elevator.
According to journalist Angad Singh, who met the Viper Demo guys at RIAT, the mishap was probably caused by a spontaneous delamination of the stabilizer’s composite material.
Following the damage, Schmitz spoke to the tower and stated that he thought his arrestor hook had ‘inadvertently’ lowered but, as you can see from the footage, it is definitely still there and stowed (maybe the damage triggered a sensor to indicate that the hook is lowered).
A team from Spangdahlem Air Base (AB) is being sent out to asses the damage this week.