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South Carolina

Two die after mid-air collision between fighter jet and plane

The plane crash occurred over South Carolina.

Fighter Jet Plane Collision Debris from a F-16 fighter jet and plane collision scatter the ground near Moncks Corner. Apexchange Apexchange

AN F-16 FIGHTER jet smashed into a small plane last night over South Carolina, killing two people and raining down plane parts and debris over a wide swathe of marshes and rice fields.

The two people aboard the smaller Cessna were killed, and the plane was completely destroyed, National Transportation Safety Board spokesman Peter Knudson said. The pilot of the F-16 ejected and “is apparently uninjured,” he said.

A press release from Shaw Air Force Base in Sumter said the pilot, Maj. Aaron Johnson from the 55th Fighter Squadron, was taken to Joint Base Charleston’s medical clinic for observation.

The fighter jet crash-landed into woods around the privately owned Lewisfield Plantation, an estate dating to 1750.

“We heard the plane crash. And then we took off from where I was at, I guess I was about a half-mile from it, when we saw a cloud of smoke,” said Leo Ramsey, who’s worked at the plantation for about 30 years.

Fighter Jet Plane Collision Apexchange Apexchange

He and two other co-workers went out to the flaming spot where the jet had crash-landed into some of the wooded acreage around the plantation, Ramsey said. They found burning metal, splintered trees and a crater where the empty jet crashed, he said.

The NTSB is investigating the cause.

Debris was scattered across a wide swathe of the sparsely populated area about 20 miles northwest of Charleston, though there were no reports of anyone being hurt or any homes being damaged on the ground, Berkeley County spokesman Michael Mule said.


A witness reported that the military plane broadsided the Cessna, said Berkeley County Coroner Bill Salisbury. Officials said during a news conference that most of the debris was in a marshy area, including a rice field.

Wayne Ware told The Post and Courier of Charleston he was going for a walk when he heard the crash happen. He did not see the initial impact, but heard it.

“I turned around, and I saw the jet. Pieces started falling out of the sky,” Ware said, telling the paper the jet’s engine landed at a campground.

The fighter pilot was flying solo practicing instrument approaches to a military base and was communicating with Charleston air traffic controllers, military officials said.

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Colonel Stephen Jost, commander of the 20th Fighter Squadron at Shaw Air force Base, said the pilot was on his phone as soon as he parachuted to the ground.

Jost said workers at the plantation picked up the pilot and took him to Berkeley County EMS workers, who took him to the Charleston base.

It wasn’t clear if a flight plan had been filed, but Berkeley County officials say the civilian pilot had indicated he was traveling to Myrtle Beach.

Jost said he thought it was overcast at the time of the collision, but he was not aware of any weather-related problems.

Read: Air force plane crashes into city killing at least 140

Read: Pilot in plane crash that killed 43 “mistakenly turned off engine”

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