Fighter jet crashes into Virginia Beach suburbs demolishing scores of buildings as pilots eject to safety
A Navy F-18 fighter jet has crashed into the suburbs of Virginia Beach, Virginia, the Navy confirms.
The two crew members ejected from the jet and were taken to a nearby hospital, but it is not yet known if there are any civilian casualties.
News footage showed smoke rising from numerous homes and the flaming wreckage lying on the ground.
Devastating crash: The wreckage of the F-18 in Virginia Beach, Virginia
Smoke: Virginia Department of Transportation traffic cameras show thick, black smoke rising from the Mayfair Mews apartment complex
Crashed: The crash happened in a residential area of Virginia Beach, which is close to a military training base
The jet, confirmed to be a Delta two-seat model, apparently crashed at the Mayfield Mews apartment complex.
Virginia Beach resident George Pilkington witnessed the crash, and told CNN the timeline of events, describing a few large explosions after the initial crash.
The plane was coming from the nearby training squadron with two crew members on board.
He said: ‘It was emptying out fuel and the tail end was down. They (the crew members) must have ejected before they came down.’
Mr Pilkington also said the engine sounded like it was ‘straining and stressing.’
Ejected: One resident posted this picture to Facebook of an ejected pilot's seat amid vinyl siding, twigs, and branches
Taken away: One of the pilots is seen being taken away on a stretcher by emergency crews - he and the other pilot ejected from the F-18 jet
Confusion: Virginia Beach residents saw a grey-black plume of smoke snaking into the sky; some described the overwhelming smell of jet fuel
Smoldering: The fiery remains of the jet lay smoldering in the wreckage of bricks and mortar
Burning: The apartment complex is seen engulfed in flames
He described the area as residential, calling it an ‘anywhere but here’ situation. While planes fly over the Virginia Beach area frequently, the F-18 crashed into a heavily residential area.
Mr Pilkington said that emergency crews responded in minutes to the crash.
Black smoke and flames were seen billowing out of what appeared to be a housing complex.
PilotOnline.com quoted a spokesman for Naval Air Force Atlantic who said the F/A-18 Hornet crashed Friday in the vicinity of Birdneck Road.
Another witness said that when the pilot came down he was still strapped to his ejector seat and had to be pulled out of the wreckage - when he immediately said sorry for the crash.
Retired Virginia Beach rescuer Pat Kavanaugh told CNN: ‘He apologised very much for hitting out complex and I told him: ‘Don’t worry about it, everything’s going to be fine’.
‘I checked him over, did a body survey, he was in shock, still strapped to his seat so we picked him up, dragged him to the other side of the parking lot away from the fire.
‘He had something on the lower half of his body, something heavy.
‘I knew we have gas in the buildings, so I didn’t know if there were going to be secondary explosions’.
Naval Air Force Atlantic spokesperson Cmdr. Phil Rosi told the website that both aviators safely ejected from the plane.
The jet belongs to VFA’s Strike Fighter Squadron 106 – a training division for student pilots. Because of the crash, Virginia State police have shut down Interstate 264 in both directions.
People are being advised to stay away from the area.
Cinder and smoke: At least ive buildings were reported to be seriously damage; there are no reports yet of civilian injuries
First responders: Fire crews rushed to put the fire out; the entire roof of one apartment building collapsed in on itself
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