Pilot Ejects From Stealth Fighter Jet During Crash Landing on the Tarmac
The incident is just one of many.
A pilot was forced to eject from a F-35B Lightning II fighter jet after it crashed into the runway at Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base in Fort Worth, Texas. The $100 million plane has been plagued with issues since it was launched in 2015—just a few weeks ago, a jet malfunctioned while being towed across the tarmac at Kadena Air Base in Okinawa, Japan, making this recent incident just one of many. Here's what happened to the plane, and the pilot.
Video footage shows the jet descending vertically down to the runway (like a helicopter). Then it suddenly bounced back up again before landing nose-first into the tarmac. The jet then flipped forward, spun 180 degrees, and fell onto its landing gear while still moving forward.
The pilot ejected himself from the cockpit and activated his parachute, which allowed him to float to the ground in safety. The jet was still skidding across the tarmac when he shot out of the plane, and officials say he was not injured in the incident.
Lockheed Martin has released a statement about the incident. "We are aware of the F-35B crash on the shared runway at Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base in Fort Worth and understand that the pilot ejected successfully. Safety is our priority, and we will follow appropriate investigation protocol."
Police Chief Chris Cook says his office received calls for help in the aftermath of the crash. One call was from Lockheed Martin, and the other was from the Naval Air Station. "The call was that a military aircraft had crashed on the base, it's on their perimeter side of the fence, and that the pilot had ejected," Cook said. "We love having the base here in our community. We love the fact that Lockheed Martin and the economic impact that it does for our North Texas region. Any time you get a call like that, you know, your heart kind of sinks. You want to get here as fast as you can. We didn't notice any smoke, anything like that as we arrived on scene."
Kitt Wilder recorded a video of the incident, which will no doubt be used in the investigation. "It started off cool. It was hovering down and then it bounced. Lost balance, I guess. And nosedive continued to keep the nose on the ground," Wilder said. "We saw all the ambulances and fire trucks coming out. So I'm just hoping he's OK. It could have happened at any time, any base, any pilot, any jet just today. And I was recording."