Pentagon: Missing F-16 Pilot’s Crash Debris Found in Ocean
News in Balance:
WASHINGTON, Oct. 16, 2009 -- Coast Guard searchers today found crash debris believed to belong to a missing Air Force pilot’s F-16 jet that collided yesterday with another F-16 near the South Carolina coast during a night-training exercise, an Air Force spokesman said today.
“The Coast Guard has found some debris in the ocean that is apparently from our missing F-16,” Robert Sexton, chief of public affairs at Shaw Air Force Base in Sumter, S.C., said during a telephone interview with American Forces Press Service. Shaw Air Force Base is the home of the 20th Fighter Wing, to which the jets belong.
The two F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft collided about 40 miles east of Folly Beach, S.C., over the Atlantic Ocean around 8:30 p.m. yesterday, according to an Air Force news release. The pilot of one plane, Capt. Lee Bryant, was able to safely land his damaged jet at Charleston Air Force Base, S.C.
The other pilot, Capt. Nicholas Giglio, is missing.
“They have not yet found any sign of the pilot and the search continues,” Sexton said. No one, he said, witnessed what happened to Giglio after the collision.
The incident, he said, occurred during a routine night-training mission.
Foul weather, including rain and fog, has hindered the Coast Guard’s search for Giglio, Sexton said.
“The Coast Guard is doing an absolutely incredible job of running the search and rescue mission,” he said. “We’re just tremendously grateful for the assistance of the Coast Guard, the Navy, Charleston Air Force Base [and] all of the other agencies that are participating in the search and rescue.”
Shaw Air Force Base is about 90 miles west of Charleston Air Force Base along the South Carolina coast.
The F-16s are “CJ” models optimized for suppression of enemy air defenses, Sexton said.
A board of officers will investigate the incident and details will be released as they become available, he said.
(Report by Gerry J. Gilmore, American Forces Press Service.)