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F-18 Crash San Diego: Pilot Ejects From Fighter Jet (VIDEO)

Huffington Post
First Posted: 12- 8-08 03:36 PM   |   Updated: 01- 8-09 05:12 AM

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***UPDATE*** 10:47PM Fox News reports now that three people have died in the F-18 plane crash in San Diego:

A fighter jet returning to a Marine base after a training exercise crashed in flames in a San Diego neighborhood Monday, killing three people on the ground, leaving one missing and destroying two homes.


The pilot of the F/A-18D Hornet jet ejected safely just before the crash around noon at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar. Explosions rocked a neighborhood of half-million-dollar homes, sending flames and plumes of smoke skyward.

"The house shook; the ground shook. It was like I was frozen in my place," said Steve Krasner, who lives a few blocks from the crash. "It was bigger than any earthquake I ever felt."

Three people were killed in a house where two children, a mother and a grandmother were believed to be at the time of the crash. No names have been released.


***UPDATE*** 7:08PM AP reports that two people have died in the crash of the F-18 jet in San Diego:

A military fighter jet preparing to land at a Marine base crashed in a densely populated San Diego neighborhood Monday, killing two people on the ground and destroying three houses.

The pilot of the F/A-18D Hornet jet ejected safely, according to a statement from Marine Corps Air Station Miramar.

Mayor Jerry Sanders said two people on the ground were killed. Fire officials said the deaths were at a home where two children, a mother and a grandmother were believed to be inside. Officials did not immediately know who died.

Three homes were destroyed, Fire Department spokesman Maurice Luque said. Firefighters were hosing down a pile of rubble 3 1/2 hours after the crash with smoke still rising from it.

About 20 homes were evacuated, and it was unclear when residents would be allowed to return, Sanders said.

The plane crashed near Interstate 805 shortly before noon Monday about two miles from the base, said Ian Gregor, a Federal Aviation Administration spokesman.

The pilot was in stable condition at a naval hospital in San Diego, said Miramar spokeswoman 1st Lt. Katheryn Putnam. The crash occurred as the pilot was returning from training on the carrier USS Lincoln, off the San Diego coast.

utnam had no details on a possible cause. Investigators will review information from a flight data recorder, and there was no indication the pilot was using alcohol or drugs, she said.

Jordan Houston, 25, was looking out his back window three blocks from the crash when he saw a low-flying plane. A second parachute with an empty seat ejected from the aircraft, and he heard an explosion.

He reported a mushroom-shaped burst of flame and said he skateboarded toward the scene and found a pilot walking around.

A truck backed over the flaming debris, Houston said, and the driver jumped out and yelled, "I just filled up my gas tank." The truck exploded shortly afterward.

There was little sign of the plane in the smoky ruins, but a piece of cockpit sat on the roof of one home. A parachute lay in a canyon below the neighborhood.

The middle-class neighborhood of half-million-dollar homes smelled like a brush fire. Ambulances, fire trucks and police cars choked the streets.

A Navy bomb disposal truck was at the site, and Marines were talking with police. Authorities told observers to leave because the smoke was toxic.

Steve Krasner, who lives a few blocks away in the earthquake-prone region, said he first thought the shaking generated by the crash was the long-anticipated "Big One."

He was in his kitchen when he heard two loud explosions and looked outside, then heard a larger blast.

"The house shook; the ground shook. It was like I was frozen in my place," Krasner said.

"It was bigger than any earthquake I ever felt," he said. "The flames were billowing overhead."

Ben Dishman, 55, said he heard what sounded like "a loud gunshot" followed by an explosion.

"It was quite violent," said Dishman, resting on his couch after back surgery. "I hear the jets from Miramar all the time. I often worry that one of them will hit one of these homes. It was inevitable. I feel very lucky."

A large, busy area of the city was blocked off to traffic, creating a long backup on I- 805, which remained open.

Students at nearby University City High School were kept locked in classrooms, but there was no damage to the campus and no one was injured, said Barbara Prince, a school secretary.

The F-18 is a supersonic jet used widely in the Navy and Marine Corps and by the Navy's stunt-flying Blue Angels. An F-18 crashed at Miramar in November 2006, but the pilot ejected safely.

Miramar, well known for its role in the movie "Top Gun," is home to some 10,000 Marines. It was operated by the Navy until 1996.


***UPDATE*** 4:05PM The BBC notes that the F-18 crashed in a heavily-populated area:

A US military F-18 fighter jet has crashed into a residential area of San Diego, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has said.


The San Diego Fire Department described the scene of the crash as "a heavily-populated area" near the 805 freeway.

TV footage showed plumes of white smoke rising from several houses. It is not clear if there are any casualties.

The jet crashed as it prepared to land at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar and the pilot had ejected, the FAA said.

***UPDATE*** 3:43PM The AP confirms that an F-18 military jet has crashed in San Diego:

An F-18 military jet crashed in a San Diego neighborhood on Monday, sparking at least one house fire.


It wasn't immediately clear whether anyone was injured, said Maurice Luque, a spokesman for the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department. Television news footage showed one house and two cars on fire.

The plane crashed shortly before noon Monday as it prepared to land at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, said Ian Gregor, a Federal Aviation Administration spokesman. The crash occurred two miles from the base.

The pilot ejected, Gregor said.

"We saw two big bangs," resident Scott Patterson told KNX radio. "The smoke came up. We don't know what it was."

The F-18 is a supersonic jet used widely in the Marine Corps and Navy.

Miramar, well known for its role in the movie "Top Gun," is home to some 10,000 Marines. It was operated by the Navy until 1996.


EARLIER: CNN is reporting that an F-18 fighter plane has crashed in San Diego. The pilot ejected from the plane before it went down, but there is no word yet on the health of the pilot. At least one house has been destroyed. Check back for more details, and video is coming soon.

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