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Pilot of lost F-35 landed in someone’s backyard, locals describe hearing jet go down

by

Daily Caller News Foundation

The pilot who ejected from an F-35 stealth fighter jet after it experienced a malfunction and temporarily disappeared landed in a residential backyard about 60 miles from where the jet eventually crashed, the Associated Press reported on Tuesday.

While flying a routine training mission on Sunday afternoon, the pilot “experienced a malfunction and was forced to eject” at an altitude of about 1,000 feet and about a mile north of Charleston International Airport, the AP reported, citing a situation report provided by a Marine Corps official. A state law enforcement helicopter spotted the debris in a field near Indiantown, South Carolina, at around 5 p.m. on Monday, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to release details.

“He’s unsure of where his plane crashed, said he just lost it in the weather,” a person can be heard saying of the pilot in a recording of a call with Charleston County Emergency Medical Services posted online Tuesday by a local meteorologist. It was not clear whether the person meant the pilot lost sight of the jet after it continued flying on autopilot, or whether inclement weather factored into the incident.

The pilot did not sustain serious injuries and was released from the hospital, the Marine Corps official said. The pilot’s wingman, who was flying a second F-35, returned safely to base Sunday night.

A local sherriff’s office described the debris field as “extensive,” according to the AP. Footage of the wreckage has been posted online showing a lengthy column of downed trees and piles of earth, but no easily distinguishable aircraft components.

Local residents recalled to local news hearing a screeching noise as the jet careened to the earth, but did not recognize it for what it was.

The F-35B flew on autopilot before crashing in a wooded area two hours northeast of Joint Base Charleston, the base saidMonday night after finding the lost fighter.

Joint Base Charleston is no longer commenting on the incident, referring questions to the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing. The 2nd MAW told the AP there is an “investigation ongoing” and declined to provide further details.

Jeremy Huggins, a spokesperson at Joint Base Charleston, told The Washington Post that the F-35B “has different coatings and different designs that make it more difficult than a normal aircraft to detect.”

The F-35B Joint Strike Fighter variety used by the Marine Corps is capable of hovering to allow for vertical takeoff and landing, like a helicopter, according to the AP. When in hover mode, the aircraft can auto-eject in the event of an incident.

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Republished with permission from Daily Caller News Foundation

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