A Coast Guard rescue swimmer saved an F-16C pilot who ejected from his plane after a midair crash with another jet about 35 miles southeast of Chincoteague, Va., Thursday night.
Two 113th Wing D.C. Air National Guard F-16C Falcon jets collided, with one pilot ejecting and the second able to nurse his plane back to Joint Base Andrews, Md., the Coast Guard reported.
Watchstanders with the Coast Guard’s 5th District received a distress signal from the first pilot’s ejection seat about 10:28 p.m., and the service sent an aircrew from Air Station Elizabeth City, N.C., to rescue the pilot, whose name has not been released.
The dark night made it hard for the rescue crew to locate the downed pilot, but he had a radio and was able to talk to the rescue helicopter’s co-pilot and guide them to his position in the water once the crew arrived on scene, said Aviation Survival Technician 1st Class Bret Fogle, the rescue swimmer who saved the pilot.
“It was even hard for me to see him when I got to the [helicopter] door,” Fogle said.
The pilot ejected with survival gear, including a one-man raft. It took Fogle about half an hour to complete the rescue and get the pilot off his seat pan and raft and into the rescue litter, he said.
Fogle evaluated the pilot in the helicopter and said he appeared to have a broken right leg, but “he was alert, responsive and in somewhat good spirits.”
“This is hands-down the most rewarding rescue I’ve ever done,” Fogle said, “I’ve never had the opportunity to help one of our own military members.”
The pilot was transported to Joint Base Andrews where an ambulance was waiting for him, Fogle said. The Coast Guard reported the pilot was in good condition. The incident is under investigation, the Coast Guard reported.