USAF: Jet With Tulsa Ties Was On Air Defense Training Mission When It Crashed
HOUSTON, Texas - The U.S. Air Force says the pilot who ejected from an F-16 in Houston on Wednesday is doing well, but it won't release any other information about him, including whether he's based in Houston or Tulsa.
The pilot ejected from the jet after it caught fire on takeoff from Ellington Airport in Houston Wednesday morning.
The jet was assigned to the Oklahoma Air National Guard's 138th Fighter Wing in Tulsa. The wing has a detachment based at Ellington Field Joint Reserve Base in Houston.
The 138th is part of the 1st Air Force, which is responsible for air defense of the contiguous United States, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.
U.S. Air Force Major Andrew Scott, public affairs officer for Continental U.S. NORAD Region based at Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida, said the jet was taking off for a routine training mission as part of that air defense responsibility.
Major Scott said air defense training involves practicing identifying and intercepting aircraft as well as checking communications and other tools the pilots would use in an actual mission. He said the jet was armed with air-to-air missiles but wouldn't say which kind due to operational security requirements.
The crashed jet has an image of a Native American wearing a head dress and the word "Tulsa" on its tail common to F-16s flown by the 138th Fighter Wing. A photo by Christopher Ebdon of AV8PIX shows the markings, as well as the jet missing its canopy which was blown off when the pilot ejected.
The 138th lost a jet on October 20, 2014 when two of its F-16s collided over southeast Kansas.
The pilot of that jet ejected safely, the other pilot managed to land his damaged fighter in Tulsa. No one on the ground was hurt.
The Air Force blamed the pilots for the crash, but both eventually returned to flight status.