CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA - An F-16 fighter jet and a small plane collided Tuesday over South Carolina, raining down plane parts and debris, while the jet’s pilot ejected safely.
The Federal Aviation Administration said in a statement that the fighter jet collided with a two-seater Cessna about 11 miles (17 km) north of Charleston.
The pilot was taken to Shaw Air Force Base for observation, said Lt. Jenny Hyden, a base spokeswoman. She did not disclose his condition. No one else was on board the single-seat jet.
It was not immediately known how many people were on board the smaller plane or if any of them survived. It was not known if anyone was hurt on the ground.
A witness reported that the military plane broadsided the smaller Cessna, said Berkeley County Coroner Bill Salisbury. He said debris was scattered over a wide, marshy area.
“We have airboats and boats that are designed to run in the mud,” Salisbury said.
Wayne Ware told The Post and Courier of Charleston he was going for a walk when he heard the crash.
“I turned around, and I saw the jet. Pieces started falling out of the sky,” Ware said, telling the newspaper the jet’s engine landed at a campground.
The National Transportation Safety Board has opened a probe into the collision, said Keith Holloway, a spokesman for the board.
The Air Force has flown F-16s since the 1970s, though very few active-duty squadrons still fly them. F-16s from Shaw Air Force Base, routinely fly training missions over eastern South Carolina and the Atlantic.
The smaller plane was a Cessna 150, according to the FAA, a plane that debuted in 1959 and remains one of the most common single-engine planes in the U.S.