Two pilots were killed when their jet trainer crashed on Friday near the Montgomery Regional Airport in Alabama, according to the facility’s executive director Marshall Taggart, Jr.
According to a statement released by the Japanese Defense Forces, one of the pilots killed was Japanese.
The T-38 jet trainer was based out of the 14th Flying Training Wing at Columbus Air Force Base in Mississippi, the U.S. Air Force released in a statement. The pilots were en route to a base in Tallahassee, Florida.
The T-38 is used by both the Air Force and Navy for training.
The Alabama Air National Guard has three main bases across the state located in Birmingham, Dothan, and Montgomery. Montgomery’s airport is located next to an Air Force facility known as Dannelly Field, home of Alabama Air National Guard’s 187th Fighter Wing. It’s not clear if the two pilots were trying to land there.
The airport received a distress call just after 5:00 p.m. The fighter jet crashed in the woods near Old Lamar Road and U.S. Highway 80 shortly after at 5:17 p.m.
“The pilots were flying a training mission at the time of the incident,” the Air Force said in the statement and added that “a safety investigation board will convene to investigate the accident.”
The T-38 normally carries two pilots: an instructor and a student.
The identities of the deceased were not released pending notification of next of kin as per established military protocol.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the two pilots involved in this incident. There are no words that can describe the sadness that accompanies the loss of our teammates,” said Colonel Seth Graham, commander of the 14th Flying Training Wing.
Columbus Air Force Base will hold a press conference on Saturday with more details.