Military • The base was in the middle of a readiness exercise.
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A Hill Air Force Base pilot ejected safely from his malfunctioning F-16 fighter jet Friday morning during a flight over western Utah's Test and Training Range.
Col. Scott Long, Hill's commander, said the male pilot was undergoing routine medical evaluation after being retrieved by HAFB emergency response personnel. He was in good condition.
Long declined to identify the pilot other than to characterize him as "one of our top pilots, very experienced, an instructor pilot."
The last crash of an F-16 on the Utah Test and Training Range occurred on June 22, 2009. The pilot died in that accident, a fact Long noted while discussing Friday's incident.
"When you get that phone call, the very first thing on your mind is if the pilot is OK, so we are very blessed today. He walked to the helicopter. He's fine," the colonel said.
The plane, part of the 388th Fighter Wing, crashed about 8:35 a.m. in an otherwise unspecified area of the remote and sprawling desert test flight area about 60 miles west of Ogden. "There was no damage to ground personnel or facilities," Long said.
The $25 million F-16 was one of 14 aircraft involved at the time of the crash in an "Operational Readiness Exercise," Long said.
"He was conducting a close-air (support) mission," testing the pilot's and the aircraft's ability to support ground forces in a time of war, Long said.
The training exercise had been underway dawn to near midnight since Tuesday, but upon news of Friday's crash the operation was suspended pending investigation of the incident by a board of Air Force officers.
Past F-16 crashes
In the past 14 years, 11 F-16s have crashed in Utah; five of the pilots died:
• May 4, 2012 • Utah's Test and Training Range; pilot ejected.
• June 22, 2009 • Utah Test and Training Range; pilot killed.
• June 28, 2006 » Utah Test and Training Range; pilot killed.
• March 30, 2006 » Great Salt Lake; pilot ejected.
• Nov. 13, 2002 » Utah Test and Training Range; pilot killed.
• Oct. 25, 2002 » Utah Test and Training Range; pilot killed.
• Nov. 9, 1998 » Utah Test and Training Range; pilot killed.
• June 19, 1998 » Hill Air Force Base; pilot ejected.
• March 16, 1998 » Hill Air Force Base; pilot ejected.
• Jan. 8, 1998 » Utah Test and Training Range; pilot ejected.
• Jan. 7, 1998 » Utah Test and Training Range; pilot ejected.