US military officials have appealed to the public for help to find a fighter jet after losing track of it somewhere over South Carolina when the pilot ejected.
A Marine Corps pilot safely escaped the F-35B Lightning II jet over North Charleston on Sunday afternoon after a “mishap”, military officials said, and the search for his missing aircraft was now focused on two lakes north of North Charleston.
The pilot parachuted safely into North Charleston at about 2pm and was taken to a local hospital, where he was in stable condition, said Maj Melanie Salinas. The pilot’s name has not been released.
Based on the missing plane’s location and trajectory, the search for the F-35 Lightning II jet was focused on Lake Moultrie and Lake Marion, said Senior Master Sergeant Heather Stanton at Joint Base Charleston. Both lakes are north of North Charleston.
Local congresswoman Nancy Mace said: “How in the hell do you lose an F-35? How is there not a tracking device and we’re asking the public to what, find a jet and turn it in?”
A South Carolina Law Enforcement Division helicopter joined the search for the F-35 after some bad weather cleared in the area, Stanton said.
Officials are still investigating why the pilot ejected, authorities said.
The pilot of a second F-35 returned safely to Joint Base Charleston, Salinas said.
The planes and pilots were with the Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron 501 based in Beaufort, not far from South Carolina’s Atlantic coast.
With Associated Press