UPDATE: Safety Paramount as F-22 Investigation Continues - WMBB News 13 - The Panhandle's News Leader

UPDATE: Safety Paramount as F-22 Investigation Continues

Posted: Updated:
Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla. -

Update 2:30 p.m. Friday

The pilot of a F-22 Raptor, assigned to the 43rd Fighter Squadron, safely ejected as the jet crashed Nov. 15 around 3:30 p.m. on Tyndall Air Force Base one-quarter mile east of the drone runway.

Despite initial media speculation, there are no indications that point to the life support system leading to this incident or playing any role in Tyndall's F-22 crash; however, a thorough investigation is being conducted in accordance with standard Air Force and Department of Defense policy. The pilot was conducting a routine training mission when first responders were alerted of a problem via an inflight emergency call and were on scene fighting the fire within two minutes of the incident.

"Our first responders reacted quickly and professionally due to the extensive training we conduct here at Tyndall," said Col. David Graff, 325th Fighter Wing commander. "In addition, the pilot received top-notch care from our medical group."

A safety team here began interviewing witnesses, maintainers and other individuals immediately after the incident. 

"Right now, our number one priority is the safety of our Airmen and all involved as we secure the scene of the incident," Colonel Graff said.

The first step taken in the securing process was a sweep by explosive ordnance disposal Airmen for any parts of the aircraft that may be explosive.

Follow-on steps include addressing environmental and biological hazards. Most modern aircraft are made of composite fibers, which can create health concerns for people on the scene when the plane catches fire.

Tyndall first responders are well trained and equipped to respond to aircraft crashes and minimize their effects on surrounding areas, Colonel Graff said.  Throughout the initial and continued responses all personnel have worn the appropriate protective gear, and they will continue to do so until the immediate site of the crash is deemed safe. 

While safety is the primary concern, preserving the accident scene is a critical part of the investigation.  All evidence will be photographed and tagged to preserve all evidence for the official safety investigation board members.

While safety is the primary concern, preserving the accident scene is a critical part of the investigation. All evidence will be photographed and tagged to preserve all evidence for official safety investigation board members.

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UPDATE 10 p.m. Thursday:

Officials at Tyndall Air Force Base are investigating the cause of an F-22 fighter jet crash. Thursday afternoon, the single seat stealth fighter plunged to the ground near highway 98. The pilot ejected right before impact.

As hours past, the hazy details became a little bit clearer for the 325th Fighter Wing Commander, who just the day before, took command of this squadron.

"We were able to secure the area and that's what we're currently going to do and we're going to keep it secure for the next while." Col. David Graff says.

According to Graff, the pilot, who has not been identified ejected safely. An eyewitness tells News 13 they observed the plane nose dive for 8 to 10 seconds, while another captured a photo, seconds after impact. This accident comes on the heals of several investigations into the safety of the $150 million aircraft.

The jet also known as the ‘Raptor' has seen its fair share of media coverage surrounding potential problems with the aircrafts oxygen deficiency.  But Commander Graff says there are no indications to show this incident is linked to previous issues.

"The F-22 is a phenomenal aircraft and the best fighter aircraft we have in the United States. I have full confidence in its capabilities and flight worthiness." Col. Graff says.

A similar F-22 was damaged in May at Tyndall. No one was hurt. Coincidently, the Air Force Times released the findings of the May mishap just hours before this crash. According to the report, the May incident was blamed on pilot error.

Thursday's crash happened around 3:30 p.m and is now under investigation. Highway 98 has been reopened to traffic.

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UPDATE 5:50 p.m. Thursday:

Col. David Graff, 325th Fighter Wing Commander held a news conference at the Tyndall Air Force Base Visitor Center at 5:45 p.m. Thursday.

Col. Graff says the pilot looks to be doing well and is undergoing medical evaluation. Graff also says Highway 98 is now reopened.

Graff says their initial goal was the safety of the pilot. Their second goal was the safety of the area and they are still working on securing the area and will keep it secure for some time.

The details of the crash are not known at this time but Col. Graff says there was nothing to indicate that the incident was oxygen related. In the past F-22 pilots have reported oxygen issues and the planes were grounded for some time while the issue was examined.

Col. Graff says Tyndall will assemble a safety board to look into the incident and see if there are concerns that may apply to the F-22 or other aircraft.

The name and age of the pilot are not being released at this time.

 

UPDATE: An F-22 incident occurred at 3:30 p.m. on Tyndall Air Force Base today one quarter mile east of the drone runway.

Highway 98 has been closed from Dupont Bridge to the "Welcome to Mexico Beach" sign as a safety precaution.

The pilot ejected from the aircraft safely. He is currently under supervision of the 325th Medical Group. First responders are on scene.

Additional details will be provided as soon as they become available.

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Information provided by the 325th Fighter Wing Public Affairs Office

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News 13 has confirmed an F-22 fighter jet has crashed on Highway 98 on Tyndall AFB

Sources at Tyndall say the pilot has ejected safely. Debris is on the runway at Tyndall at this time.

The Bay County Sheriff's Office is assisting at this time. Bay County Control says the County's hazardous materials team has been asked to stand by at this time.

The DuPont Bridge has been closed and traffic is currently being averted.

News 13 has learned that the pilot is safe and with EMS. Crash happened on the drone runway at Tyndall Air Force Base.

News 13 has a reporter on scene. We will bring you updates as soon as they are available.