Missing F-35 jet was nearly 'inverted' before crash: witness - Breaking News

Missing F-35 jet was nearly ‘inverted’ before crash: witness

The missing F-35 stealth jet presumed to have crashed in South Carolina over the weekend was spotted “almost going inverted” as it flew about 100 feet above the treetops just before the disaster, according to a witness.

Adrian and Stephen Truluck were celebrating their son’s 7th birthday at their Williamsburg County, South Carolina home on Sunday when they spotted a low-flying aircraft — before hearing a “boom” sound.

“Our kids always give a little salute, so we said, ‘Look at the plane. Oh my gosh, it’s so low,’” Adrian told NBC News. “And it was kind of probably 100 feet above the treetops, and almost going inverted.”  

“It was probably three-quarters of the way,” her husband Stephen added, noting that they could “see the canopy” of the jet. 

Soon after witnessing the jet, they recalled hearing a “boom sound,” which they said at the time they chalked up to stormy weather.


jet
A South Carolina couple says they saw a low-flying plane and later heard a boom a day before a debris field was discovered.
AFP via Getty Images

The couple said they didn’t think much of the low-flying plane, as Shaw Air Force Base is about 60 miles away from their home.

Only the next day when they learned that a debris field was discovered mere miles from their home did they realize they had seen the missing jet, likely moments before it crashed.

“We were thinking it was rolling thunder in the distance and didn’t give it another thought until we saw the plane was missing,” Adrian said, “and we were like that had to be the plane.”


military
Officials located a debris field not far from where the couple spotted the plane.
AP

Captain Joe Leitner, a spokesperson for the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing, declined to comment to NBC on the Trulucks’ account to “preserve the integrity of the investigatory process,” which remains ongoing.

On Sunday afternoon, Joint Base Charleston, located about 80 miles south of Williamsburg County, asked the public for help finding a missing F-35B Lightning II jet.

A debris field was discovered the next day about two hours northeast of Joint Base Charleston, according to a press release from the military base, which urged people to avoid the area.


military
Officials have not given a cause yet for the crash.
AP

The base could not officially confirm the debris was from the missing jet Monday night.

“The mishap is currently under investigation, and we are unable to provide additional details to preserve the integrity of the investigative process,” Joint Base Charleston said Monday evening.

The $90 million jet, which maker Lockheed Martin brags as being “the most lethal, stealthy and survivable aircraft in the world,” vanished after its pilot left the aircraft on autopilot before bailing in a parachute and landing in a homeowner’s backyard Sunday afternoon.


jet
The F-35 stealth jet went missing after the pilot ejected because of a “mishap.”
AFP via Getty Images

Officials have not given an official cause for the crash as of Wednesday.

The pilot, who has not been identified, was located in a residential area in North Charleston on Sunday afternoon and taken to a local hospital for treatment.

After ejecting, the pilot claimed to have lost the plane due to bad weather. He has since been discharged.

He is understood to have left the jet on autopilot when he ejected — sparking a desperate, embarrassing hunt that included the military appealing to locals to help find the aircraft