“I guess we have a pilot at our house and he says he was ejected.”
This was the emergency call received in Charleston County, South Carolina, after an F-35B Lightning II fighter jet crashed on Sunday, according to audio recordings released by the county government.
There were no deaths or serious injuries in the accident on Sunday. The debris from the crash was found on Monday.
When making an emergency call, the dispatcher initially appears surprised by the caller: “I’m sorry – what happened?”
“We have a pilot in the house and I suspect he landed in my back yard and we’re trying to figure out if we can get an ambulance to the house please,” the caller replies.
The pilot called a short time later and said he was 47 years old, had ejected from about 2,000 feet after “an airplane failure” and had mild back pain.
“We have a military jet crash. I am the pilot. We have to get the rescue started. “I’m not sure where the plane is,” the pilot tells the dispatcher. “It would have crashed somewhere. I ejected.”
The pilot also asks if a plane crash has been reported in the area.
Later that day, Joint Base Charleston and Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort asked on social media for help finding the stealth aircraft. The joint base urged people to call their defense headquarters if they had any information.
Searchers later found a debris field in Williamsburg County, about two hours northeast of Joint Base Charleston, officials said Monday evening.
Eyewitnesses said the plane was flying “backwards” before crashing.
No injuries were reported on the ground. The crash is under investigation.
The jet belongs to a training squadron of the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing.
It took off from Joint Base Charleston on Sunday afternoon and was one of two aircraft involved in a routine training flight, Capt. Joe Leitner, spokesman for the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing, told reporters: according to The Post and Courier Newspaper.
The pilot was taken to a hospital and released Monday afternoon, U.S. Department of Defense officials said.
Aerospace giant Lockheed Martin describes the F-35 series on its site website as the “most advanced fighter jet in the world” as well as the “deadliest, most stealthy and most survivable aircraft.” The Marines declared the first squadron ready for operation in 2015.