F35 pilot who ejected leaving his jet flying on autopilot over South Carolina is heard pleading for an ambulance in bizarre 911 call from resident’s house and admitting ‘I’m not sure where my plane is’
- The 911 call showing the bizarre interaction between an operator and the F35 pilot who ejected over South Carolina last weekend has been released
- The pilot, 47, said that he was okay after the 2,000 foot plunge but added that he didn’t know where his plane went
The 911 call that was made after an F35 pilot ejected over South Carolina and landed in a residential neighborhood last weekend have been released.
On the bizarre call, the North Charleston resident who called emergency services can be heard trying to explain to an operator what was going on after the pilot landed in his backyard.
Eventually, the pilot gets on the phone to tell the operator that ‘we need to get the rescue rolling’ and that he doesn’t know where his plane ended up.
Officials have said that the stealth bomber pilot was forced to abandon his aircraft due to a technical malfunction.
The pilot, 47, says that he is ‘okay’ after plunging 2,000 feet but adds that his back hurt as he pleads for an ambulance.
The Marine Corps revealed this week that the plane soared to another 1,000 feet and flew for 60 more miles before crashing into a rural area. Investigators took a full day to fine the stricken plane.
A U.S. Marine Corps F-35B Lightning II takes part in an aerial display during the Singapore Airshow 2022 at Changi Exhibition Centre in Singapore, on Feb. 15, 2022
The F-35 went down only around 80 miles from its base, north of Charleston, South Carolina
The investigation into the peculiar crash is ongoing and could take months, officials said.
‘We got a pilot in the house, and I guess he landed in my backyard, and we’re trying to see if we could get an ambulance to the house, please,’ the resident said. He added that the pilot ‘looked fine.’
‘Ma’am, a military jet crashed. I’m the pilot. We need to get rescue rolling,’ the pilot said. ‘I’m not sure where the airplane is. It would have crash landed somewhere. I ejected.’
Later in the call, he made another plea for medical help.
‘Ma’am, I’m a pilot in a military aircraft, and I ejected. So I just rode a parachute down to the ground. Can you please send an ambulance?’ the pilot said.
The Marines have described the pilot as an experienced aviator with decades of experience in the cockpit.
In a separate eight-minute dispatch call released Thursday to the AP, an unidentified official tried explaining that they had ‘a pilot with his parachute’ but no information about what happened to his plane or word of a crash.
Scorched earth from the crashed fighter jet is seen on Monday in South Carolina
He said ‘the pilot lost sight of it on his way down due to the weather.’
The official also recalled hearing a ‘rather loud noise’ about 25 minutes prior that ‘sounded something like a tornado, possibly a plane.’
The Marine Corps said Thursday that a feature on fighter jets intended to protect pilots in emergencies could explain how the F-35 managed to continue its travels.
They said that while it was unclear why the jet kept flying, flight control software would have worked to keep it steady if there were no longer a pilot’s hands on the controls.
‘If the jet is stable in level flight, the jet will attempt to stay there. If it was in an established climb or descent, the jet will maintain a 1G state in that climb or descent until commanded to do something else,’ the Marine Corps said in a statement.
‘This is designed to save our pilots if they are incapacitated or lose situational awareness.’
Other questions about the crash remained, notably why the plane wasn’t tracked as it continued flying over South Carolina and how it could take more than a day to find a massive fighter jet that had flown over populated, although rural, areas.
The Marines said features that erase a jet’s secure communications in case of an ejection — a feature designed to protect both the pilot’s location and the plane’s classified systems — may also have complicated efforts to find it.
File images show a F-35 flying at a terrifying angle
‘Normally, aircraft are tracked via radar and transponder codes,’ the Marines said. ‘Upon pilot ejection, the aircraft is designed to erase (or ‘zeroize’) all secure communication.’
The plane would have kept broadcasting an identifier on an open channel to identify itself as friend or foe — but even on an unclassified communications channel air traffic control may not have been able to pick up the signal depending on how powerful its radar was, the weather at the time, how high the plane was flying and the terrain, the Marines said.
They said thunderstorms and low cloud ceilings further hampered the search for the plane.
‘When coupled with the F-35’s stealth capabilities, tracking the jet had to be done through non-traditional means,’ the service said in its statement.
The incident is still under investigation and results from an official review board could take months.
However, the Marines said the feature that kept the plane flying may not only have saved the life of the pilot but of others on the ground.
‘The good news is it appeared to work as advertised. The other bit of silver lining in this case is that through the F-35 flying away it avoided crashing into a densely populated area surrounding the airport, and fortunately crashed into an empty field and forested area,’ the statement said.
The Marines were not able to locate the crashed plane for 28 hours, leading to a humiliating appeal on social media for help finding the missing $80 million jet.
Richard Aboulafia, an aviation expert, told The New York Post the pilot was likely operating the stealth fighter without any tracking capabilities activated, which hampered the search.
‘If you turned on the onboard device it would be easily trackable,’ he said.
‘But this is a stealth aircraft. If you don’t turn that particular device on it’s going to be hard to make contact. Most likely, he or she did not have a lot of time to react.’
Once it was located, a Marine Corps team was dispatched to secure the wreckage and a second team, one that conducts aircraft mishap investigations, was sent to the site.
But questions are now being asked as to why it was allowed to fly, given the proximity to storms and the concerns about its sister planes.
The National Weather Service issued a ‘special weather statement’ for the Charleston region, warning of 55mph winds.
They also warned of thunderstorms, heavy rainfall, and ‘isolated tornadoes’. Indeed, radar footage from around 2pm on Sunday does show thunderstorms across the area.
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