F-16 Crashes in Arizona, Pilots Safe

** Photo courtesy of Tristan Truax**

An F-16 crashed shortly before 7 p.m. local time on Wednesday into the desert west of Phoenix, not far from its home field at Luke Air Force Base. The single-engine fighter jet was reportedly on a training mission, carrying a student and an instructor. Both pilots, whose names have not been made public, ejected safely before the airplane slammed into the ground. Neither pilot was injured, according to a statement from the Air Force.

Witnesses reported hearing several explosions shortly after the airplane departed from the AFB. They then watched the pilots eject and the airplane go down just outside the perimeter of the base, sending a huge plume of black smoke into the air. According to the Air Force, there was no damage to structures or private property on the ground.

Colonel John Hanna reported in a news conference that the accident occurred after the pilots executed a touch and go. Hanna said the Air Force is conducting a thorough investigation to find the cause of the accident and that flight operations have been suspended during the initial stage of the investigation.

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Pia Bergqvist joined FLYING in December 2010. A passionate aviator, Pia started flying in 1999 and quickly obtained her single- and multi-engine commercial, instrument and instructor ratings. After a decade of working in general aviation, Pia has accumulated almost 3,000 hours of flight time in nearly 40 different types of aircraft.

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