Pilot error, wind caused Nevada drone crash

An Air Force investigation says a Predator drone crashed into a runway on a Nevada base because of a low-level wind shear and pilot error.

Air Combat Command at Langley Air Force Base, Va., released its accident investigation report on Tuesday.

The Predator crashed at Creech Air Force Base, 45 miles northwest of Las Vegas, on April 4 during a routine launch and recovery training mission. The report says the aircraft bounced on the runway until its landing gear was destroyed. It says the pilot used the wrong recovery technique for the drone after it experienced a loss of lift due to the wind shear.

The Air Force says the drone was significantly damaged. There were no injuries.

Made by General Atomics Aeronauticle Systems Inc., each multipurpose or MQ-1 Predator, armed with laser-guided Hellfire missiles and equipped with high-tech video and infrared cameras, cost roughly $4 million.

A fully operational MQ-1 Predator system includes four aircraft, a ground-control station, and a satellite link. The Predator and its three spares can be disassembled and loaded into a “coffin,” and transported worldwide, according to globalsecurity.org, a military information website.

Overseas operations can be controlled via satellite link by pilots and sensor operators in ground stations in the United States. Or, ground stations can be transported to other locations by C-130s and larger transport aircraft.

Review-Journal writer Keith Rogers contributed to this report.

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