Hill AFB sets up eyewitness account hotline after F-35 crashes

Oct 20, 2022, 5:48 AM | Updated: 6:06 am
Jet plane crash and fire...
A crash at Hill Air Force Base started a fire with a debris field above a local neighborhood. (Courtesy Heidi Nilson)
(Courtesy Heidi Nilson)

HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah — Eyewitnesses who saw an F-35 Lightning II crash at Hill Air Force Base have been asked to call the base as the U.S. Air Force continues its investigation.

Those who witnessed the crash or those who have found anything that may be related to the mishap should call 801-777-0911 or email 75abw.pa@us.af.mil with their name, address, phone number and related details.

A member of the Air Force will return your call or email, and the Air Force said providing any information is voluntary. It will not be shared outside of official channels.

F-35 crashes at Hill Air Force Base, pilot hospitalized after ejection

On Wednesday, an F-35 crashed at the north end of the HAFB runway. The pilot ejected from the crash and emergency crews responded, according to a tweet from the 388th Fighter Wing.

The unidentified pilot was on a routine training mission, according to HAFB spokesmen.

Base spokespeople said it appeared the pilot navigated the jet fighter in a way that avoided a worse possible outcome.

A crash at Hill Air Force Base started a fire with a debris field above a local neighborhood. (Courtesy Heidi Nilson) A crash at Hill Air Force Base started a fire with a debris field above a local neighborhood. (Courtesy Heidi Nilson) Smoke from the F-35 crash at the Hill Air Force base.

“I do know that the pilot made his best effort to avoid any buildings or anything on the ground prior to ejection and that resulted in no injuries to anyone on the ground,” Col. Craig Andrle said.

The crash created a debris field on the north side of the base that extended into South Weber and sparked an 8- to 10-acre fire that was quickly extinguished.

The man who helped get the pilot to safety after he landed near his property told KSL TV the pilot was actually yelling and waving his arms when he go to him. He seemed to be OK, aside from bloodied hands.

“He did a dang good job,” Brock Thurgood said. “He got it away from homes, he got it away from people. He was a stud. I just feel like he did a really good job and he was really lucky.”

Thurgood said the pilot landed near his South Weber property after ejecting. Thurgood said he heard a loud boom and saw smoke, so he got on an all-terrain vehicle to investigate, along with his daughter and two other nearby residents.

“We went up there and as we’re driving down the Canal Road … looking for a way to get up there, we looked over and saw him,” Thurgood said. “He was waving his arms and yelling and walking down towards us and it was the pilot. I don’t really think there’s much to say other than that he’s OK, and that’s the most important part.”

Base officials say operations should be running fairly normally as early as Thursday.

KSL TV’s Ashley Moser, Andrew Adams and KSL.com’s Bridger Beal-Cvetko contributed to this story. 

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Hill AFB sets up eyewitness account hotline after F-35 crashes