Skip to comments.VIDEO: F-16 pilot ejects moments before jet crashes into building near March Air Reserve Base
Posted on 05/23/2019 5:18:36 PM PDT by Excuse_My_Bellicosity
Linked story: RIVERSIDE, Calif. (KABC) -- Dramatic video shows the moment an F-16 pilot ejected just before his fighter jet crashed into a building near the March Air Reserve Base in Riverside County last week.
The person who captured the video was driving near March Air Reserve Base on May 16 when the jet, which was armed with live ammunition needed for its NORAD alert mission, went down.
A burst of flame can be seen on the left side of the shot as the pilot ejected. The jet then stays airborne for a while before the video stops as the aircraft crashes.
The pilot, who was the only occupant of the aircraft and has not been identified, landed at the airfield near Cactus Avenue and Meridian Parkway where a parachute was spotted. He was said to be in "good" condition.
Officials say the pilot did declare an emergency before ejecting, but won't confirm a possible cause.
The aircraft crashed at the end of the runway and into a warehouse, where the building's sprinkler system was set off. A CAL FIRE chief said despite initial reports, a small fire did not ignite. The 215 Freeway reopened in both directions between the Cactus Avenue and Harley Knox Boulevard exits after closing for about 24 hours while the military dealt with the ordnance.
The military has not released a cause for the crash, and the jet is still inside the building.
The aircraft was flying with a "standard armament configuration," according to the official who could not provide details on the contents of the package due to operational security commitments. The armament had been secured and was disposed of in accordance with Air Force policies and regulations this afternoon, officials said.
AIR7 HD captured the detonation at Ben Clark Public Safety Training Center in Riverside.
Michael Messisca of the Riverside University Health System said 13 adult patients were received after the incident. Three were "trauma activation patients." Those three were admitted to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries and are currently stable. The other 10 were treated for fume and debris exposure and discharged in good condition, some of them were first responders, officials said.
Witnesses say the F-16 fighter jet was flying in tandem with another aircraft at low altitude when something went wrong.
Images from AIR7 HD showed a large hole on the roof of the building. Capt. Fernando Herrera with Cal Fire and the Riverside County Fire Department said the first fire unit to arrive confirmed the military aircraft crashed into the tilt-up building.
Authorities conducted a search and the people inside the building were evacuated.
Fire officials and other agencies created an evacuation zone of about 4,000 feet from the area of impact. Most of the evacuation orders around the crash have since been lifted, however the buildings nearest to the crash are still off limits until the fighter jet is moved.
A photo from inside the building appears to show part of the plane sticking out of the rubble. Jeff Schoffstall said he was working when he heard the plane come dangerously low to the ground before it made a loud noise. He posted video from inside the building.
Another employee talked about witnessing the aftermath of the crash.
"It was almost to the point where I had to cover my ears, and next thing you know I just hear this explosion," said witness Daniel Gallegos. "I turn around to the back of the building and I just seen a burst of flames and just the ceiling start falling through every part of the building. In a matter of seconds, my ankles were filled with water."
The United States Air Force Reserve said in a press release that the plane was conducting a training mission for NORAD at the time.
The pilot is part of the 144th Fighter Wing, an Air National Guard unit based in Fresno.
The aircraft belongs to the South Dakota Air National Guard in Sioux Falls.
The investigation into the crash is ongoing.
Good that the pilot is relatively OK and we hope he will recover.
Incredible that there was no fire. Curious that ejection prompted a nose up attitude...
How many millions of hours of flight time between crashes of the f-16?
Very reliable jet. Glad no one was hurt
Problematic with a single engine jet. I’m assuming that he lost the engine. Sixteen to one glide ratio. I wonder if the stick is supposed to do something automatically on ejection.... pull up and stall out, maybe? Seems like the last time I heard of one going down was on takeoff at an airshow with a relatively short runway. They said it would have been able to land on a long runway
Things may have happened very quickly.
Looks like it.
The shot in the vid showing the building it hit looks like no forward motion, it was just falling straight down.
The Air Force will charge him for a new seat cushion at a minimum... after his butt chewed a hole in it.
” In a matter of seconds, my ankles were filled with water.””
That wasn’t water running down your leg...
It was amazing for me to see a hole in that roof, and yet no massive disruption on the exterior of the building other than that. Perhaps other photos reflect otherwise, but from what I saw it looked almost as if the aircraft dropped in the building straight down, and went nowhere.
You’d think one of the sides would have blown out. Didn’t seem to happen...
No post-crash fire usually means no fuel to burn...time will tell. Stand by for the accident investigation team to sort this out.
I saw the same thing. According to early reports, the pilot was doing an emergency landing due to hydraulic problems and ejected due to controllability problems. The video does seem to confirm that. Notice that the plane pitched up AFTER the seat/pilot were already out. The seat going out pushes the nose down. The fact that the plane did a pitch-up significantly after the seat was out tells me that there was an unusual transient in the flight control system. The CSFDR download (Crash Survivable Flight Data Recorder) should be very interesting on this one. The good thing is that the jet is in good enough condition that they should be able to pull other flight data recorders (there’s a lot of things in the F-16 that yield flight data) and the Flight Control Computer, download from that should be interesting, too.
No, the stick/flight control system doesn’t do anything upon ejection. The pilot will usually pull the nose up and get slow BEFORE ejecting if there’s no danger of the jet flying on too far and hitting somewhere/something with people, he wouldn’t want to do that in this case. Initial reports (can’t always be trusted) said that he was having hydraulic problems and ejected due to controllability problems. The seat going out pushes the nose down.
He was trying to put it down on the airfield, that uncommanded pitch-up will be of great interest to the investigation board and I’m sure the CSFDR (Crash Survivable Flight Data Recorder) download is of great interest.
Pushes the nose in the opposite direction, anyway. I doubt it pushes hard enough to matter, much. What with the canopy blown off, and the speed that those rockets move the seat, I’m sure it’s a hell of a ride.
Yeah, I’ve seen it have a good effect on an Alphajet that was nearly stalled when its engine got FODded out due to birds right after a touch-and-go. On F-15 and F-16, not much at all.
I know, haha!! I’m sure it was the sprinkler system but they walked into that one!
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