HomeWorldF-35 pilot ejected over South Carolina due to bad weather
F-35 pilot ejected over South Carolina due to bad weather
September 20, 2023
The pilot who ejected from a $100 million F-35 fighter jet claimed to have lost the plane in the weather — and likely bailed out before he could activate its tracking system, sources and experts said.
“He’s unsure of where his plane crashed, said he just lost it in the weather,” a voice can be heard saying of the pilot on a Charleston County Emergency Medical Services call posted Tuesday by a meteorologist.
The unidentified pilot landed in a North Charleston residential neighborhood and was taken to a local hospital for treatment.
He has since been discharged.
Military officials have not yet released a specific reason for the pilot’s hasty exit, only referring to the incident as stemming from a “malfunction.”
Longtime military aviation expert and consultant Richard Aboulafia told The Post the pilot was likely operating the stealth fighter without any tracking capabilities activated — and ejected before he could do so.
“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.”
Military officials were compelled to ask for the public’s help in locating the plane — via a post on Facebook.
“It’s unusual,” Aboulafia said of that effort. “But what is the harm? The onboard device has not been turned on, it’s not being tracked. So it makes perfect sense that they’re going to ask for help from people in the area who might have seen a jet heading in their direction.”
The plane ultimately crashed into a wooded area in South Carolina about 60 miles from where the pilot parachuted to the ground.
State law enforcement officers said they officially identified the plane on Monday and have since closed off a one mile stretch of road in Williamsburg County.
Local residents in the rural area said they heard an ear piercing screech before a massive boom that shook their homes.