Fighter Jet Crashes

A military fighter jet bound for an Air Force base in California crashed on Tuesday, May 28th, near the international airport in Albuquerque, New Mexico, creating a large plume of smoke and injuring the pilot. The pilot, who was the lone occupant, managed to eject and was transported to a hospital with serious injuries, according to the city’s fire department. As of late Tuesday evening, the pilot was reported to be in stable condition, according to Air Force sources.

Lockheed Martin, the U.S. manufacturer of the jet, confirmed that the downed aircraft was an F-35. The plane had departed from Fort Worth, Texas, earlier in the day and was en route to Edwards Air Force Base near Los Angeles. A spokesperson from Lockheed Martin stated via email to The Associated Press that the crash occurred after the pilot stopped to refuel at Kirtland Air Force Base in New Mexico.

Immediate responses from either of the Air Force bases involved were not available.

Kirtland Air Force Base, located on the southern edge of Albuquerque, hosts the 377th Air Base Wing, responsible for nuclear operations and the training and equipping expeditionary forces. The base is also home to the Air Force Research Laboratory.

Patrick White, an eyewitness driving in the area at the time, recounted seeing the aircraft flying low, stirring up dirt and dust. The jet briefly disappeared from view before an “enormous plume of black smoke” appeared. As White drove past the crash site, he noticed a piece of the fighter jet lying in the middle of the road.