A Navy F-18 fighter jet has crashed into the suburbs of Virginia Beach, Virginia, the Navy confirms. The two crew members ejected and were taken to a nearby hospital, but it is not yet known if there are any civilian casualties. News footage showed smoke rising from numerous homes and the flaming wreckage lying on the ground.
The jet, confirmed to be a Delta two-seat model, apparently crashed at the Mayfield Mews apartment complex.
Virginia Beach resident George Pilkington witnessed the crash, and told CNN the timeline of events, describing a few large explosions after the initial crash.
The plane was coming from the nearby training squadron with two crew members on board.
He said: ‘It was emptying out fuel and the tail end was down. They (the crew members) must have ejected before they came down.’
Mr Pilkington also said the engine sounded like it was ‘straining and stressing.’
He described the area as residential, calling it an ‘anywhere but here’ situation. While planes fly over the Virginia Beach area frequently, the F-18 crashed into a heavily residential area.
Mr Pilkington said that emergency crews responded in minutes to the crash.
Black smoke and flames were seen billowing out of what appeared to be a housing complex.
PilotOnline.com quoted a spokesman for Naval Air Force Atlantic who said the F/A-18 Hornet crashed Friday in the vicinity of Birdneck Road.
Naval Air Force Atlantic spokesperson Cmdr. Phil Rosi told the website that both aviators safely ejected from the plane.
The jet belongs to VFA’s Strike Fighter Squadron 106 – a training division for student pilots. Because of the crash, Virginia State police have shut down Interstate 264 in both directions.
People are being advised to stay away from the area.