Air Force officials have confirmed that an F16 fighter jet crashed this morning in a wooded area near Joint Base Andrews in Maryland. The incident sent a plume of black smoke over the area and forced the evacuation of several nearby homes due to the danger posed from the planes armaments.
The D.C. Air National Guard F-16C fighter jet crashed about 9:15 a.m. This morning about 6 miles southwest of Andrews AFB, the home to Air Force One. Officials said the pilot, was on a routine training mission at the time of the crash. Fortunately he was able to eject from the jet and has since been recovered. The plane is assigned to the 113th Wing.
A spokesperson said the pilot did suffer some non-life-threatening injuries but is expected to make a full recovery. It appears that no one else was injured in the incident. Meanwhile military officials have taken control of the crash site and the area is now locked down as they investigate the cause of the crash.
“We have reports that there was one pilot on board the aircraft who parachuted out, and has been picked up by a military helicopter and has been taken to an area hospital,” Prince George’s County fire department spokesman Mark Brady said.
Witnesses told local media that they saw the plane flying very low and then saw someone ejecting from the plane via parachute. Then, they said they saw smoke.
“I heard a really loud boom, wasn’t sure what that was; it sounded like maybe construction work. And then I heard a second boom, but it was so loud,” one resident said. “My house shook, like an earthquake. But it almost sounded like a bomb.”
The plane crashed near Temple Hills Road and Woodelves Way in Clinton, Maryland. Police advised civilians to stay clear of the area and have closed many of the area roads.
The pilot ejected close to National Harbor near the Pentagon and was at a very low altitude when the pilot ejected. The 113th Wing runs post-9/11 missions guarding the U.S. against threats by air. They are one of the busiest wings in the country, with as many as 3,000 flights per year guarding Washington’s airspace. The squadron has at least one aircraft sitting on the runway at all time on an 8 minute alert status.
Homes near the scene of the crash are being evacuated as a precaution because of the possibility of hazardous materials. Kent Roberson witnessed the crash as he was driving through a residential area nearby. He told reporters: “…I just heard a loud boom, I guess… like how a large tree falls and shakes the ground. That’s what it felt like and what I heard.” Roberson added that he saw the flames and smoke rising from the ground.