BEAUFORT, SOUTH CAROLINA (WTOC) - A F-35B fighter jet belonging to the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing crashed on Friday around 11:45 a.m. in Beaufort County, South Carolina on Luke Barnwell Island in the Gray Hills community. The jet was being held at Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort.
According to the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office, the pilot, the only person on board, was able to safely eject from the plane. Medical personnel have evaluated him for injuries, and he is currently at home resting .
“The pilot had ejected and ejected safely," said Captain Bob Bromage with the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office. "He was rescued and has been transported to a local hospital for medical evaluation. United States Marine Corps is on scene, and there is a unified command but they are investigating the cause of the crash at this point.”
The plane went down around Clarendon Road and Joe Allen Drive in Grays Hill. CBS reported the plane was an F-35. The F35 is the newest and most expensive plane in the U.S. military, however this is the first crash reported of the F-35.
The F-35B, which is the second variation of the plane, drew a lot of attention because of the short takeoff and vertical landing abilities. The Marine Corps Air Station in Beaufort is the only place in the world where pilots train to fly the Jet. It’s the world’s first supersonic aircraft with the capability of short takeoff and vertical landing. That includes American pilots and other military members from U.S. allies. A website run by the manufacturer, Lockheed Martin, says the Marine Corps plans to buy about 350 of these planes.
In an unrelated announcement on Friday from the Pentagon, the Department of Defense announced a drop in price of the plane from $122 million to $115 million dollars in a new contract with Lockheed Martin.
The Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office advised people to stay away from the area. Residents and guests are asked to avoid Little Barnwell Island until the area is deemed safe. The Grays Hill Boat Ramp is closed to help with support operations.
Residents say they were just tending to their yards and relaxing when they heard an explosion.
“The first explosion was a little bit lighter and the second explosion was kind of heavier," said resident Beverly Bush. “Then I got a call from my neighbor and she said could you come over here I just saw a plane crash so I went over to her house and on the way over, I could see the black smoke billowing from the top of the house. I called 911 while I was on my way over there and they explained that they had already had a 911 call about it and then we saw all of the boats and the planes and the helicopters and then I got a nixle on my phone saying the pilot was actually ejected from the plane and he was found safely so we’re all happy about that.”