Pilot ejects from fighter jet in Texas in failed landing
FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — A pilot safely ejected from a plane Thursday after a failed landing that was caught on video at a North Texas military base, officials said.
The Marine Corps variant of a fighter jet, known as a F-35B, took a nose dive and spiraled after its wheels briefly touched down on the shared runway at Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base in Fort Worth. Video taken by people who were watching the plane come in show it slowly descending in a straight line as smoke appears in the rear of the aircraft before the nose digs into the runway and the jet spins to a stop.
The F-35B has special modifications that allow it to take off and land vertically like a helicopter.
At the Pentagon, a spokesman said that the aircraft was being flown at the time of the crash by a U.S. government pilot, although it had not been transferred to the military yet by manufacturer Lockheed Martin.
The pilot safely ejected from the airplane, according to Pentagon spokesman Air Force Gen. Pat Ryder. The condition of the pilot is not known.
About a dozen local officers responded to the base, where first responders and base personnel were already on site following the incident, said Chris Cook, police chief for the nearby city of White Settlement. Officers helped keep away a growing crowd of people who had stopped on a roadway or walked over after the plane went down.
“You never want to get that call that there is an aircraft down,” Cook said. “We have a very fond spot in our community for the military. White Settlement is a military community.”
A spokesman for the Navy referred all questions to Lockheed Martin, the aerospace and defense company that manufactures the plane involved.
Officials from Lockheed Martin said in a statement that they were aware of the crash and were under the impression the pilot was safe.
“Safety is our priority, and we will follow appropriate investigation protocol,” the company said in the statement.
The failed landing came just over a month after two historic military aircraft collided during an airshow 40 miles (64 kilometers) away at the Dallas Executive Airport, killing six people. A report from the National Transportation Safety Board said there had been no coordination of altitudes in briefings before the flight or while the planes were in the air.
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