LOCAL NEWS

Hill F-35 pilot released from hospital, crash investigation underway

Oct 20, 2022, 6:02 PM | Updated: 8:54 pm

HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah — Just hours after an F-35 fighter jet crashed at Hill Air Force Base,  federal investigators were already on scene trying to find out what went wrong.

The pilot ejected safely but he was taken to the hospital and released him hours later.

The F-35 was a complete loss.

“The aircraft was totally destroyed,” said Col. Craig Andrle commander of the 388th Fighter Wing at Hill Air Force Base.

The look on Andrle’s face showed signs of relief when he updated the condition of his pilot. “He was seen at the hospital and released with just minor scrapes and that’s it.”

Andrle did not release the pilot’s name.

Wednesday evening the F-35 crashed into a hillside just before the base’s north runway.

The pilot ejected just before impact and may have directed the plane away from nearby homes and neighborhoods.

“Any of us in that situation are going to attempt to maneuver the aircraft to avoid any buildings on the ground and I’m sure he did that  prior to ejecting from the aircraft,” Andrle said.

Several people who live and work in the area saw the crash and resulting brush fire.

They are used to the jet noise but Wednesday night something didn’t sound right.

Investigation, cleanup underway after F-35 crashes at Hill AFB

Scott Cook and his family own property and live right below the F-35 crash area. He said they rushed to the scene after they heard the crash and saw the flames.

“We know right where the runway is, and we know if there’s smoke coming off that, that something’s gone bad,” Cook said.

The big question now is, what went wrong?

Air Force investigators started to gather any piece of evidence they can find.

They’ve also requested anyone who has pictures or video of the crash to send it them in. Investigators also asked residents to look for debris in their yards.

“Really what I’m most concerned about is if you something that looks like some kind of structure, that looks metal or looks like maybe a fiberglass piece of a boat or something like that that wasn’t around your home or your area previously. I would ask you to give us a call,” Col. Jeffrey Holland, Commander of the 75th Air Base Wing said.

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

Though F-35s have crashed before, this is the first time one has crashed at Hill Air Force Base.

The last crash at Hill was an F-16 in 2009.

Andrle said, “These things do happen. Thankfully they are fairly rare. But when they do occur, obviously we’re going to take the time to figure out why it happened and to see if there is anything we need to do differently in the future.”

People with pictures or some debris are asked to call Hill Air Force Base at 801-777-0911. You can also email 75abw.pa@us.af.mil.

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