Federal authorities are investigating a midair collision over South Carolina involving an Air Force fighter jet and a small civilian plane, as first reported by The Washington Post.
The two planes that collided this morning were an F-16 fighter and a Cessna 150, according to the National Transportation Safety Board, which said it is investigating the collision. The accident occurred around 11 a.m., the Federal Aviation Administration said in a statement.
The fighter pilot safely ejected as reported by Shaw AFB where the fighter originated, while no information is currently known in regards to the well-being and or number of passengers on the Cessna.
“From what I understand from a witness, the military plane struck the other, small aircraft broadside,” Bill Salisbury, the Berkeley County coroner and chief of the county’s rescue squad, said at the news conference.
Shaw AFB is home to the Air Force’s largest combat F-16 wing, according to the base’s website, which says its “mission is to provide combat-ready airpower and combat-ready Airmen to meet any challenge, anytime, anywhere.”
It would appear however, they were not prepared for a civilian plane to pass by. While the investigation remains under way it is clear something went tragically wrong today. When the Air Force is facing budget cuts, downsizing, at its lowest reported standing force since its creation in 1947, they are distracted with retirement fund cuts, and GOP members have slashed veteran benefits, how can you expect a pilot to focus?
Though I’m guessing these weren’t the exact thoughts going through the pilot’s mind at the moment of the crash, it is clear that what should have been easily avoidable was instead tragic and poorly executed. A Cessna plane travels at a top speed of 188 mph and was not built to dodge stealth fighters, while an F-16 can travel at up to 1345 mph and was built to maneuver at this speed in combat situations which would entail several other aircraft. F-16 fighters are equipped with the Boeing joint helmet-mounted cueing system which identifies other aircraft with radar capabilities. The civilian Cessna would not have been equipped with radar. While the actual cause of this crash remains uncertain, and should not actually be directly attributed to budget cuts, there was a terrible, easily preventable, crash today that leaves more questions than answers.
Featured image of the crash site compliments of Business Insider