South Carolina Plane, F-16 Collision: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

Debris from a mid-air collision involving a F-16 military jet and a Cessna small plane. (Amy Ramsey Dye/Facebook)

Debris from a mid-air collision involving a F-16 military jet and a Cessna small plane. (Amy Ramsey Dye/Facebook)

An Air Force F-16 jet and a small plane collided over Moncks Corner, South Carolina, on Tuesday, the National Transportation Safety Board says. Two people on board the other plane, a Cessna 150C, were killed in the crash, according to the NTSB.

The victims were identified as Michael Johnson, 68, and his son, Joseph Johnson, 30, officials said at a press conference on Wednesday.

The mid-air collision happened at about 11 a.m. The F-16 came from the 20th Fighter Wing at Shaw Air Force Base in Sumter, South Carolina:

Here’s what you need to know:


1. Witnesses Reported Seeing a ‘Ball of Fire’

Witnesses told WCBD that they saw a huge explosion and a “ball of fire” in the air.

The crash occurred about 10 miles away from Charleston, South Carolina.

According to emergency radio communications, firefighters and police were told not to touch any parts of the plane, and were advised to stay upwind from the crash site because of the potential for exposure to hydrazine, a toxic fuel the aircraft uses, the Charleston Post and Courier reports.

Photos posted to Twitter showed parts of the plane scattered around the area below where the crash occurred, including what appeared to be an engine leaning up against a
trailer home.

There have been no reports of injuries on the ground.

“I didn’t see it; I heard it,” Wayne Ware told the Post and Courier. “I turned around, and I saw the jet. Pieces started falling out of the sky. His engine is lying right there at the campground.”


2. The Pilot of the F-16 Ejected From the Plane & Was Taken to the Hospital

According to WCBD, the F-16’s pilot, Captain Aaron Johnson, ejected from the plane and survived.

Officials said the pilot, was recovered and taken to a hospital by a private vehicle, according to an ABC News 4 producer on Twitter.

Bill Salisbury of the Berkeley County Rescue Squad said during the press conference that the pilot seemed to be in good shape.

The pilot is from the 55th Fighter Squadron.


3. Parts of the Planes May Have Landed in Water

A Google Maps satellite image shows the area near where the planes collided. (Google Maps)

A Google Maps satellite image shows the area near where the planes collided. (Google Maps)

The Charleston Post and Courier reports that one of the planes possibly landed in water.

The crash happened near the Cooper River at the Lewisfield Plantation.


4. The Small Plane Crashed in a Rice Field

Kathryn Dennis, one of the stars of the Bravo reality show Southern Charm, said on Twitter that the small plane crashed in a rice field near her house and the people in the plane are family friends.

Officials confirmed that parts of the small plane were scattered over a large area near a watery rice field near the Cooper River.


5. The Cause of the Crash Is Being Investigated by the NTSB & the Air Force

The National Transportation Safety Board and Air Force officials are investigating what caused the two planes to collide.

The F-16 was on a training mission, officials said, while the Cessna had left Berkeley County Airport just minutes before the collision, according to the Post and Courier.

“It’s a routine type of training mission that we do at Joint Base Charleston,” Colonel Stephen Jost said, commander of the 20th Fighter Wing, told the newspaper. “Our pilots are well-trained to fly the approaches into and out of there.”

“There are 100 factors that could have been at play here.”

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