Air Force fighter jet from Nellis crashes in Alaska after mid-air collision | NevadaAppeal.com

Air Force fighter jet from Nellis crashes in Alaska after mid-air collision

JAMES HALPIN
Associated Press Writer

ANCHORAGE, Alaska – Two pilots whose fighter jets collided in mid-air over central Alaska walked away virtually unscathed, military officials said late Monday.

The pilot of the F-15C ejected before his jet crashed Monday morning and was taken a nearby military clinic, said Airman Justin Weaver, a spokesman at Eielson Air Force Base near Fairbanks.

The other jet, an F-16C, was damaged but landed safely, Weaver said.

“I saw it from a distance when it landed and it didn’t really look like there was anything wrong with it,” Weaver said.

Neither airman sustained any reported injuries, said Lt. Bryon McGarry, another Eielson spokesman.

It was not immediately clear what caused the 11:05 a.m. AST accident during a training exercise in a rural area about 90 miles east of Fairbanks in Alaska’s interior, McGarry said.

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“It’s still very early on,” McGarry said. “Everybody’s working diligently, but it’s just a matter of getting things together.”

The National Weather Service in Fairbanks said conditions were mostly cloudy with a few scattered showers at the time of the collision.

The Federal Aviation Administration will not investigate since the crash occurred in military airspace, said FAA spokesman Mike Fergus.

A board comprised of Air Force officers will investigate, Weaver said. It was unclear whether the pilots would be placed on administrative leave because of the accident.

Air Force officials would not immediately release the pilots’ names and didn’t make them available for interviews.

“They’re at the center point of this investigation, and as part of standard procedure they do not speak until the investigating party knows what happened,” McGarry said.

He said the investigation could last as long as several months.

The crash happened during the Red Flag-Alaska training exercise taking place at the Pacific Alaska Range Complex, a 67,000-square mile training ground.

The $29 million F-15C that crashed was from Langley Air Force Base, Va., while the F-16C was from Nellis Air Force Base, Nev.

Shortly after the crash, Eielson officials contacted the Alaska Air National Guard 11th Rescue Coordination Center, which redirected an HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopter to rescue the pilot, said McHugh Pierre, a spokesman for the Alaska Department of Military and Veterans Affairs.

The Guard took the F-15C pilot to a clinic on the Air Force Base, Weaver said.

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