1 of 3 | A pilot was forced to eject from an F-35 Lighting II, like the one shown, before the combat jet crashed on a runway at Utah’s Hill Air Force Base, according to a statement from the military. File photo by Debbie Hill/UPI | License Photo
Oct. 20 (UPI) -- A pilot was forced to eject from an F-35 combat jet moments before the plane crashed on a runway at Utah's Hill Air Force Base Wednesday night, according to the military.
No injuries were reported on the ground, and the unidentified pilot was expected to survive after the Lightning II aircraft went down during a routine training mission, the 388th Fighter Wing unit said in a statement on its official Twitter account.
Emergency workers arrived fast and took the pilot to a nearby hospital, where doctors have not provided an update yet on the extent of his injuries.
Authorities also provided no immediate indication about the circumstances that caused the crash.
Residents in a nearby neighborhood took photos and video of the crash scene that showed a long trail of thick smoke rising beyond a hillside on the north side of the base, where officials said burning debris set fire to a field.
Earlier, a teenage boy riding his bike in the neighborhood saw the careening aircraft and witnessed the pilot ejecting above a property in the area.
Another witness who was the first to reach the injured pilot said it did not appear that he was seriously injured.
Military officials added that they were relieved the pilot was able to steer the plane clear of any homes or people on the ground.
"I do know that the pilot made his best effort to avoid any buildings or anything on the ground prior to ejection and that resulted in no injuries to anyone," said Col. Craig Andrle, according to KSL News 5 in Salt Lake City.
The fire at the base took about an hour to extinguish.