Pilot who ejected from missing $80 million jet explains what happened to it
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Featured Image Credit: JACK GUEZ/AFP via Getty Images/ MENAHEM KAHANA/AFP via Getty Images
The pilot who ejected from a missing F-35 fighter jet has said they lost the plane in ‘bad weather’.
The $80 million aircraft went missing after the pilot ejected themselves and it kept flying in a 'zombie state'.
A Marine Corps pilot, who hasn’t been identified publicly, was flying the plane on Sunday, September 17, when they safely ejected over North Charleston, South Carolina.
They parachuted down and was taken to hospital at around 2pm, with a spokesperson having since confirmed that the pilot was in a stable condition. He has since been discharged.
Military officials have yet to state the specific reason for the pilot’s quick exit, having only referred to it as arising from a ‘malfunction’.
Recovery teams started searching for the plane over Lake Moultrie and Lake Marion, but the US Military called for people to come forward with information that may help assist in their efforts.
In a post on Facebook after the plane went missing, Joint Base Charleston said: "Personnel from Joint Base Charleston and Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort(MCAS Beaufort SC)are responding to a mishap involving an F-35B Lightning II jet from Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron (VMFAT) 501 with the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing.
"The pilot ejected safely and was transferred to a local medical center in stable condition. Emergency response teams are still trying to locate the F-35.
"The public is asked to cooperate with military and civilian authorities as the effort continues.
Authorities revealed on 18 September that they discovered a debris field amid their search for the plane.
Authorities said in a statement: “Members of the community should avoid the area as the recovery team secures the debris fields.
"The mishap is currently under investigation, and we are unable to provide additional details to preserve the integrity of the investigative process.
"We would like to thank all of our mission partners, as well as local, county, and state authorities, for their dedication and support throughout the search and as we transition to the recovery phase.”
The plane crashed into a wooded area in South Carolina around 60 miles from where the pilot parachuted to the ground. The aircraft was officially identified on Monday.
In a Charleston County Emergency Medical Services call which was posted on Tuesday by a meteorologist, a voice can be heard saying: “He’s unsure of where his plane crashed, said he just lost it in the weather.”
The jet’s manufacturer Lockheed martin describes the F-35 as 'the most lethal, survivable and connected fighter jet in the world' - so it's probably not something you just want lying around.