A government F-16 fighter jet undergoing a mission for training has crashed in Maryland on Wednesday morning. The pilot is unharmed, and managed to parachute to safety, say authorities.
Officials from Joint Base Andrews stated that the aircraft was an F-16C jet sent from the US Air National Guard 113th Wing. The accident occurred at about 9:15 a.m., around six miles to the southwest of its base.
“The aircraft was flying along with other DCANG [D.C. Air National Guard] aircraft in a routine training mission in the greater washington area. The aircraft carried only the pilot.,” said Andrews base in a recent statement. They mentioned that “the pilot ejected and sustained non-life threatening injuries.”
Many residents in the area said they had heard the sounds typical of multiple fighter jets since 7 a.m. on Wednesday, but due to their proximity to the base, they are accustomed to hearing these sounds.
Hours later someone reported a loud explosive sound. People worried it had been a bomb, and many noticed the flames and smoke but weren’t sure of the exact location of the plane crash.
Patrick Dodson, a nearby resident, said to NBC 4 that there was a”whooping” like noise and he glanced up from where he was sitting on his porch.
“The jet was already on fire,” said Dodson. “I screamed into the house, ‘Get out of the house!’”
“I thought the plane was coming here,” he stated. He noticed the pilot had parachuted out from inside the plane. “He was coasting in the wind with the parachute,” said Dodson. “Things were falling down [probably debris].”
“I waited for all the things to fall down,” he continued. “It sounded like gunfire going off, through the trees.” And then he said he ran about a mile and reached the pilot in the woods near a fire.
“When I get there, he [the pilot] was standing on his two feet and wrapping his parachute up,” said Dodson. “I said, ‘Are you okay?’”
Dodson stated that the pilot had asked him if everyone around the neighborhood was okay.
“He said he tried to direct the plane away,” from houses in the region, Dodson stated.
Dodson also asked if the pilot had been carrying live bullet rounds, to which he said yes.
NBC 4 stated that the crash occurred within around 200 yards from a nearby residential area.