Two pilots flying F-16s off the coast of Virginia as part of the Air National Guard collided, clipping wings Thursday night, forcing one pilot to eject into the ocean, the Associated Press reported.
The pilot who ejected into the water 35 miles southeast of Chincoteague was rescued and the other pilot involved in the collision flew back to Joint Base Andrews in Maryland, according to the AP. Both pilots, which are reported to be experienced fliers, are in good condition.
Two F-16s collided during a training mission Thursday night. (Photo: Shutterstock.com)
"We are extremely fortunate to have lost only metal, and not the life of one of our Airmen," Brig. Gen. Marc Sasseville, 113th Wing commander, said in a statement, according to the AP.
Here's more from the AP on the rescue mission and state of the ejected pilot:
Coast Guard Petty Officer 1st Class Bret Fogle, the rescue swimmer on the operation, said it was pitch black outside during the rescue, but the downed pilot followed his training and lit rescue flares so he could be found. He said the pilot's demeanor was calm when he reached him, even though his right knee was in an incredible amount of pain. He said putting the pilot on a board so he could be lifted into the helicopter felt like he was putting the pilot's knee through torture because it was swollen to the size of a grapefruit and appeared to be broken.
"He was actually just a very tough dude. When I saw his knee and saw how he was handling it, the first thing in my mind was like, 'How the hell [did] you get in this raft and why are you so calm?' His training kicked in obviously, because he did everything right."
The AP included that Capt. Michael Odle, chief of the public affairs department, did not detail what the planes were doing in what the Air National Guard's press release stated was a "routine training mission," but mentioned that occasionally pilots have to go in to intercept planes flying into restricted airspace or to help those that have lost communications, which requires close flying.
He also said three additional planes were part of the training when the incident took place and one stuck around in the area to help the Coast Guard locate the ejected pilot. A press release from the Coast Guard reported getting the signal that the pilot had ejected by just before 10:30 p.m. He was rescued and transferred to the base by 12:30 a.m. Friday.
Watch the Coast Guard's video of the helicopter rescue:
This story has been updated to correct a spelling error.