U.S. pilot ejects before fighter jet crashes in South Korean sea

SEOUL, South Korea –

A U.S. Air Force pilot safely ejected from an F-16 fighter jet that crashed into waters off South Korea’s southwestern coast on Wednesday, in the second such crash in less than two months.

The unidentified pilot was conscious and was transported to a medical facility for assessment, the U.S. 8th Fighter Wing said in a statement. It said it closely worked with U.S. and South Korean mission partners to recover the pilot, who experienced an unspecified in-flight emergency and ejected before the plane crashed into sea. The cause of the crash, which reportedly occurred in waters near the port city of Seosan, was being investigated.

“We are very thankful to the Republic of Korea rescue forces and all of our teammates who made the swift recovery of our pilot possible,” said Col. Matthew C. Gaetke, the wing’s commander, referring to South Korea’s formal name. “Now we will shift our focus to search and recovery of the aircraft.”

The 8th Fighter Wing, which is composed of two F-16 squadrons, previously experienced an F-16 crash in December. It then said the pilot experienced problems during a routine training flight and was safely recovered after ejecting the aircraft before it crashed into sea near the port city of Gunsan.

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