Capt. William H. DuBois Jr., a well-regarded F-16 pilot with the 77th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron, deployed to the region on Oct. 14 to conduct airstrikes targeting the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. He had flown 18 flights as part of the operation. Seventeen of those flights took place at night, including five where he landed at night.
Shortly after taking off, the wingman radioed to DuBois that he had a landing gear door malfunction. The crew circled the base to burn off fuel and prepare to land.
The first pilot was able to land safely, and DuBois followed. It was still night out, and while DuBois was outfitted with working night-vision goggles, it isn't clear if he was using them.
The move became standard among the pilots, but violated published procedures and guidance, according to the report.
"Despite published [squadron] guidance to the contract, this 'self set-up' approach by members of the [squadron] was a common practice within the squadron," the report states.
Leaders had taken steps to stop pilots from setting up their own approaches in this way, but they had not been effective.
The F-16 was destroyed, at a loss of $30.8 million. There were no other injuries or damages to civilian property. A host nation recovering helicopter launched to recover his remains and bring them back to the U.S.
DuBois grew up in New Castle, Colorado, and graduated from the University of Colorado at Boulder, where he was a part of the school's Reserve Officer Training Corps.
"He was the best man I ever knew," his father, William DuBois Sr., said in a statement following the crash. "He had a short life that was so well-lived. He lived life to the fullest. He was so much more."
DuBois had a total of 741 hours of flight time. Commanders had said he would likely be the next in his squadron to be picked for the U.S. Air Force Weapons School.