GLENDALE, Ariz. – The pilots flying an F-16 fighter jet that went down near Luke Air Force Base in suburban Phoenix reported hitting a bird shortly after takeoff, the Air Force general who commands their base said Thursday.
The two pilots, who were practicing landings and takeoffs at the base Wednesday evening, ejected safely and the fighter crashed in a farm field near the base.
“Shortly before the accident the pilot reported a bird strike,” Brig. Gen. Mike Rothstein told reporters at the base 15 miles west of Phoenix.
“It sounds like they did a good job, the airplane didn’t hit anybody or anything and they both survived with what I know is no injuries,” 56th Operations Group commander Col. John Hanna said. “It’s about as good as it gets when you have any kind of accident where you destroy an airplane.”
Base spokeswoman Lt. Candice Dillitte said there’s nothing to indicate a fleetwide problem with the jets, but the Air Force will investigate the cause.
The base, 15 miles west of Phoenix in Glendale, is the world’s largest F-16 pilot training base and had 138 F-16s before Wednesday’s crash.