Two civilians were killed when their single-engine Cessna 150 collided with a US Air Force F-16 in the skies over South Carolina late yesterday morning. The USAF pilot, Major Aaron Johnson of the 55th Fighter Wing, based out of Shaw Air Force Base, was able to eject and was "apparently uninjured." He was held at Joint Base Charleston for observation, Air Force officials told Military.com.
"These [incidents] are very rare," USAF spokesperson Lt. Jenny Hyden told USA Today. "Military aircraft and civilian aircraft are not usually flying in the same airspace. When military aircrafts are doing any combat maneuvers, they are in a different airspace that civilian aircrafts are not allowed in."
The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the incident, along with the FAA and Air Force, although at this point, it's unclear how the collision actually happened.
Eyewitnesses report that the F-16 appeared to "broadside" the Cessna, Berkeley County Coroner Bill Salisbury told Military.com. The remains of the fighter fell across a wide, marshy area, which includes a rice field, some 25 miles northwest of Charleston. There are homes in the area, although it doesn't appear any were affected by falling debris. "We have airboats and boats that are designed to run in the mud," Salisbury said of efforts to recover the F-16 debris.
You can see the rescue of Maj. Johnson in the video, attached below.