F-16 Fighting Falcon News

F-16 crashes near Utah's Salt Lake

March 31, 2006 (by Lieven Dewitte) - An F-16C from Hill Air Force Base was on a training mission with three other jets when something went wrong and the pilot ejected. The jet crashed around 15.00h, approximately 30 miles west of Hill Air Force Base after the pilot ejected safely.

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Crash site in Tooele County, Salt Lake City, Utah. The crash debris was scattered over an area 150 yards wide and about a half-mile long. [Media screenshots]

The pilot, First Lt. Jay Baer, only suffered some bumps and bruises.

The 388th Fighter Wing's 421st Fighter Squadron trains regularly for an upcoming deployment. Four F-16 single-seater fighters were training for close support of ground troops over the northern Utah Test and Training Range.

As they were returning to the Air Force Base, something went wrong with one of the jets. The pilot ran through checklists of potential solutions, but the situation got worse. If the engine does not give the pilot enough thrust to stay at least 2,000 feet off the ground and in control, the pilot is trained to eject, says Col. James Post, Vice Wing Commander of the 388th.

The aircraft went down in a muddy tidal area along one of the islands in the Great Salt Lake. The other pilots saw where Jay Baer landed and were able to direct a medical helicopter to him.

The nature of the problem with the jet was not immediately know. It will likely take months to complete the investigation.

Flying jet fighters is dangerous in battle or in training. Pilots have crashed and died in the Utah Test and Training range numerous times, but it's been several years. The Fighter Wing is glad this pilot came home alive.

A Hill AFB spokesman says the jet (#89-2115) was carrying ammunition, toxic hydrazine (in a 70% solution used to power the Emergency Power Unit) and white phosphorous rockets typically used during training for target practice.

This is the second F-16 crash for the Air Force in a month. On March 14th, an F-16 crashed into the West sea near Kunsan Air Base in Korea.

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