An extraordinary incident occurred in South Carolina over the weekend: A pilot of a state-of-the-art fighter jet, an F-35, escaped from his plane using the ejector seat and landed in a backyard.
According to the AP, an audio recording was released documenting the pilot’s distress call and conversations between a stunned resident and a dispatcher. “Ma’am, a military jet crashed. I am the pilot. “We have to get the rescue going,” said the pilot. “I’m not sure where the plane is. It would have crashed somewhere. I ejected.”
Military pilot crashes into garden: residents alert emergency services
The North Charleston resident calmly explained that a military pilot had just landed in his yard and requested an ambulance. The 47-year-old pilot reported that he felt OK despite falling from about 2,000 feet. He only complained about back pain. According to the AP, the pilot was unable to specify where his plane crashed during the conversation. However, he emphasized that rescue workers were urgently needed.
The F-35 fighter jet crashed near Charleston International Airport after a malfunction and continued flying uncontrollably until it crashed into a rural area near Indiantown. It took more than 24 hours to locate the crash site. AP further reported that another emergency call came in where an officer mentioned having a “pilot with a parachute” but had no specific information about the plane’s condition or location.
Marine Corps clarifies: Software keeps F-35 stable in the event of a pilot failure
The Marine Corps also commented on the incident. They tried to explain how the F-35 was able to continue flying despite the pilot’s failure. When the pilot’s hands are no longer on the controls, the flight control software would ensure that the aircraft remains stable. This mechanism is intended to protect pilots in emergencies.
However, questions remain unanswered. Why wasn’t the plane tracked while flying over South Carolina? Why did it take so long to find a large fighter jet that had flown over populated areas? The Marine Corps said features that erase a jet’s secure communications to protect both the pilot’s location and the plane’s secret systems could complicate detection efforts. In addition, weather conditions such as thunderstorms and low cloud cover could have made the search more difficult.
F-35 avoids actively populated area: investigation ongoing
Finally, the Marine Corps emphasized in a statement that the F-35’s uncontrolled flight prevented it from crashing into a populated area and crashed into an empty field and forested area. The incident remains under investigation and results could take months, according to the AP.