F-16 Fighting Falcon News

F-16C goes down off South Carolina Coast

April 5, 2006 (by Jon Somerville) - At around 17.40 hours while on a two ship training mission over the Atlantic, 30 miles off the coast of South Carolina, an F-16 went down. The other pilot in the flight saw the ejection and a parachute open but it was not untill 19.35 hours that the pilot was rescued by the US Coast Guard.

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F-16C 93-0542 seen at NAS Oceana when it flew with the 78th Fighter Squadron (photo by Jon Somerville)

Although to be confirmed it is thought to be F-16CJ #93-0542 which was part of the 55th Fighter Squadron at the time. Pilot, Captain Ted Shultz, also of the 55th Fighter Squadron was listed as being in stable condition.

Shaw AFB, South Carolina has three squadrons of F-16CJ's which all fly the same mission of Supression of Enemy Air Defences.

It was almost exactly a year ago when another Shaw F-16 crashed. And it was almost the exact same scenario as Wednesday's crash.

The F-16 just started their 90-minute training mission when the pilots reported there was something wrong with the engine. Minutes later, the pilots ejected. The plane crashed in a marsh in the Ashley River.

The people who saw it all happen say that's a miracle the pilots were able to walk away from the fiery crash, virtually unharmed. An investigation later found that a maintenance crew's failure to install seals on a turbine blade led to the crash.

On a normal day, fighter jets at Shaw Air Force Base take off for training missions about 40 times a day. They routinely train over the Atlantic.

By operating over the ocean, the jets can fly at supersonic speeds, keeping down noise levels and staying away from areas where there is heavy commercial air traffic.

This is the third USAF F-16 crash in as many weeks. At this time no anouncement has been made as to whether the F-16 fleet will be grounded.