Smoke rises from the site of F35 Marine plane crash, pilot leaves in ambulance
The Beaufort Marine Corps Air Station pilot who ejected from an F-35 jet Friday morning before it crashed on Little Barnwell Island has been released from the hospital, according to Lt. Samuel Stephenson of the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing.
The jet, a single-seat Lockheed Martin F-35B Lightning II with Marine Corps training squadron VMFAT-501 — a unit known as the “Warlords” — crashed around 11:45 a.m., according to Marine Corps spokesperson Capt. Christopher Harrison.
The pilot, a U.S. Marine, ejected safely, Harrison said, and was evaluated by medical personnel.
No casualties on the ground were reported and the aircraft was not carrying any ordnance, Harrison said.
Stephenson said Saturday morning that flight operations at the air station will continue as normal Saturday and that the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing will also continue to operate as normal until directed otherwise.
“Our first priority will always be the safety of Marines, Sailors and the local community,” Stephenson said.
The Corps have not named the pilot and cited privacy policies. He or she was evaluated at the scene and then taken to Beaufort Memorial Hospital before being released, according to an email from II Marine Expeditionary Force spokesman Maj. Jordan Cochran. sent Friday
The incident occurred on Little Barnwell Island, which is about five miles from the air station. It marks the first crash and ejection by an F-35, Harrison said.
The aircraft is valued at $115.5 million.
The scene of the crash was secured as of 2 p.m. on Friday, according to the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office. Residents were asked to avoid Little Barnwell Island and the Grays Hill Boat Landing while emergency services personnel assessed the area for safety.