Military crews were lucky to walk away with their lives after an F-35B fighter jet collided with a KC-130J tanker while refueling near Coachella.
Witnesses caught on video the moments the $100M Lockheed Martin combat jet fell from the sky and exploded in the desert into a fireball. The single-pilot for the aircraft was able to eject from the seat and parachute to safety.
Spectators yell in fear as they are helpless while watching the situation unfold.
The crew onboard the KC-130J tankers declared emergency mid-air to flight controllers in LA around 4 p.m. The controllers asked the crew to confirm if the plane was “going down now,” following a refueling that went wrong.
The tanker crew continues, “we declare an emergency. We still have partial control of the aircraft. Two engines out. We are aiming towards, uh.” Then the transmission from the tanker cuts out.
However, the tanker plane was able to make an emergency landing in a field near Thermal Airport. Reports say that the plane is missing two propellers from one wing, as well as leaking fuel. In addition, all eight crew members walked away from the scene unharmed.
Marine Corps spokesperson Capt. Joseph Butterfield said that around 4 p.m., “it was reported that an F-35B made contact with a KC-130J during an air-to-air refueling evolution, resulting in the crash of the F-35B. The pilot of the F-35B ejected successfully and is currently being treated.”
According to officials, both aircraft came from Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in San Diego.
[H/T Too Fab]