VIRGINIA

Pilot ejects from jet after mid-air collision

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JOINT BASE ANDREWS, Md. (WJLA) - A pair of F-16 Falcon jets belonging to the D.C. Air National Guard clipped wings in mid-air off the coast of Virginia's Eastern Shore late Thursday night, forcing one of the pilots to eject and be rescued at sea.

The collision happened about 35 miles southeast of Chincoteague Island at about 10:30 p.m. Thursday during a routine training mission, officials say. The pilot who ejected was rescued from his emergency raft in the Atlantic about two hours later.

During the rescue, four Coast Guard members, including Lt. Cmdr. Steve Bonn, Lt. David Birky, and Petty Officers Bret Fogle and Mark Bergman combined to help hoist the downed pilot into a helicopter.

“Typically we do quick maneuvers, accelerations,” says Fogle. “It’s inherently dangerous but one they train in and are proficient.”

The other plane involved in the incident was able to fly back to Joint Base Andrews in Prince George's County. Both pilots, whose names have not been released, were treated for minor injuries.

Both planes belonged to the 113th Wing D.C. Air National Guard. The Coast Guard said it was alerted to the pilot's ditching by a distress signal from his ejection seat.

"The military has some of the best and most highly-trained people in the world, which reduced the potential magnitude of this incident," Brig. Gen. Marc Sasseville, the commander of the 113th Wing, said. "We are extremely fortunate to have lost only metal, and not the life of one of our Airmen."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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