Fighter jet crashes after mid-air collision

Pilots survive as one ejects and the other lands safely

Posted: Tuesday, June 12, 2007

ANCHORAGE - An F-15 fighter jet crashed Monday after a mid-air collision with another military jet that landed safely, military officials said.

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The pilot of the F-15C ejected before the crash, and was taken a nearby military hospital, said Airman Jennifer Anton, a spokeswoman at Eielson Air Force Base near Fairbanks. The pilot did not have serious injuries, she said.

The other jet, an F-16C, was damaged but landed safely, and that pilot was uninjured, she said.

"I saw it from a distance when it landed and it didn't really look like there was anything wrong with it," said Airman Justin Weaver, another Eielson spokesman.

Weaver said it appeared that the F-16's wing had been clipped by the F-15C.

It was not immediately clear what caused the 11:23 a.m. AST accident during a training exercise in a rural area about 90 miles east of Fairbanks in Alaska's interior, Anton said.

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, Anton said. Air Force officials would not immediately release the pilot's names.

The crash happened during the Red Flag-Alaska training exercise taking place at the Pacific Alaska Range Complex, a 60,000-acre training ground.

The $27 million F-15C that crashed was from Langley Air Force Base, Va., while the F-16C was from Nellis Air Force Base, Nev.

The Alaska Air National Guard took the F-15C pilot to Bassett Army Hospital at Fort Wainwright, also near Fairbanks, said McHugh Pierre, a spokesman for the Alaska Department of Military and Veterans Affairs.

The Red Flag-Alaska training exercise includes more than 1,400 military personnel from the U.S., Singapore and Australia. The simulated combat exercise is scheduled to run through June 15, according to Eielson's Web site.

The last time a plane crashed at Eielson Air Force Base was in February 2004, when A-10 pilot Jonathan Scheer was killed during a night-training mission, Weaver said.

That crash was blamed on pilot disorientation, though equipment failure and weather may have contributed to it, Air Force officials reported at the time.

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