May 17, 2019 (by Lieven Dewitte) - An armed F-16 fighter jet crashed Thursday into a warehouse just off March Air Reserve Base in Perris, California.
Capt. Matt 'Eddie' Fritz flies F-16C block 30 #85-1446 from the 175th FS out of Sioux Falls IAP over the Gulf of Mexico while deployed to Tyndall AFB in support of Combat Archer, an air-to-air Weapons System Evaluation Program on June 9th, 2003. [USAF photo by TSgt. Michael Ammons]
The F-16 had a hydraulic failure while attempting to land, which led to the crash.
The pilot, who safely ejected before the plane went down, walked away after parachuting near the end of Runway 32, according to reports from the scene. The pilot was taken to a hospital to be checked out but has no major injuries.
The armed F-16 pancaked around 15:45h onto the roof of the 500,000-square-foot See Water Inc. warehouse. Television news footage showed a large hole in the roof and sprinklers on inside the building about 65 miles east of Los Angeles. All employees working in the at the warehouse were confirmed to be safe.
Witnesses reported seeing the jet shudder and roll moments before it plummeted earthward. A battalion chief confirmed that the F-16 was carrying ordnance, prompting a hazardous materials response. The entire neighborhood was cordoned off, and occupants of neighboring buildings were initially ordered to shelter in place.
The pilot is part of the 144th Fighter Wing, an Air National Guard unit based in Fresno
. The aircraft itself belongs to the South Dakota Air National Guard in Sioux Falls
, South Dakota and was one of the alert jets for the North American Aerospace Defense Command and was armed.
The base is home to the Air Force Reserve Command's Fourth Air Force (4 AF) Headquarters and host for the 452d Air Mobility Wing (452 AMW), the largest air mobility wing of the Fourth Air Force.