US Air Force F-16 jet crashes, catches fire in Texas
A US Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft has crashed during takeoff from an airbase in the state of Texas.
The incident took place on Wednesday morning, when the jet from the 138th Fighter Wing caught fire and covered the runway at Ellington Field Joint Reserve Base with a big cloud of smoke.
The pilot safely ejected from the burning plane and was taken to a hospital to receive care for his possible injuries.
“The aircraft, under the direction of the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), was conducting a training flight,” the North American Aerospace Command said in a statement.
A large number of firefighters reported to the scene and began their work after cordoning off a one-mile evacuation zone.
“The Houston Fire Department is responding to a military jet which has caught fire on the north side of Ellington Field in southeast Houston,” Houston’s Office of Emergency Management said in a statement, warning locals that there would be increased traffic in the area.
After the crash, the F-16’s engine continued to run until it ran out of fuel and allowed the authorities to reduce the danger area.
According to Major Anthony Scott with Air Defense Command, the aircraft was on a training mission and had “air-to-air missiles on board.”
NORAD refused to elaborate on the crash and the possible reasons that led to the fire.
“From what we understand, he was on takeoff roll when something happened that we haven’t determined yet,” Master Sergeant Sean Cowher, of the 147th Attack Wing of the Texas Air National Guard, told the media.
An interim safety board comprised of several agencies had already started its investigations into the crash.
The Air Force lost another F-16 fighter jet during a training flight over Maryland in early April. The pilot survived the incident.