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F-16 crashes just 200 yards from Maryland homes; pilot ejects

BY KEVIN TAMPONE ktampone@syracuse.com

A U.S. fighter jet crashed outside Joint Base Andrews in Maryland today, according to CNN.

A U.S. F 16 fighter seen in a file photo Aijaz Rahi AP Photo
A U.S. F-16 fighter, seen in a file photo. (Aijaz Rahi | AP Photo)

The F-16 crashed about six miles outside the base in Prince George’s County, Maryland. The accident happened during a routine training mission, CNN said.

The pilot ejected and is “OK,” Air Force officials told CNN. The jet was from the 113th Fighter Wing of the Air National Guard, which is assigned to Andrews.

The jet crashed about 9:15 a.m. in a wooded area. The crash sent a plume of black smoke into the sky and forced evacuation of nearby homes, according to NBC 4 in Washington.

The pilot parachuted to the ground after ejecting and was picked up by a military helicopter. He was taken to a local hospital and treated for minor injuries, NBC said.

No one else was hurt, although the plane crashed just 200 yards from homes, according to NBC. Residents told NBC they saw the plane flying low before the pilot ejected.

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They said they heard at least one huge boom, saw black smoke and smelled fire.

The area, about 15 miles southeast of Washington, was locked down as officials investigated the cause of the crash. A local elementary school is also on lockdown, according to NBC.

People in the area described the crash impact as terrifying, NBC said. Debris was found as far as several miles away from the crash site.

The 113th Fighter Wing is known as the Capital Guardians and is tasked with defending Washington. The wing also provides fighter, airlift and support forces capable of local, national and global deployment, according to CNN.

The plane that crashed could cost as much as $60 million, according to NBC. The jets are meant to be fast and agile, but are not designed to glide.

“If you have a low altitude, you’re in trouble,” said Todd Harrison of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, according to NBC. “There’s very little time to recover, especially if it’s something catastrophic.”

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