What Happens If an F-35 Pilot Lands In Your Backyard?

The pilot ejected before their plane crashed

F-35 in flight
An F-35 in flight.
Lukas Kabon/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Earlier this month, a Marine Corps F-35 crashed in South Carolina. This was newsworthy for many reasons, including the spectacle of a high-profile crash involving a stealth fighter that has had a significant impact on the military’s supply chain. There’s another aspect to the crash that has a bit less of an impact on military spending, and that has to do with the pilot, who thankfully ejected before the F-35 crashed.

Now, as The Washington Post reports, details of a 911 call have made it a bit more clear how the pilot’s arrival on the ground and subsequent actions went. The call was placed by a South Carolina resident who first encountered the pilot after they ejected from the plane — and seems to have been almost as shocked by what they found as the 911 dispatcher who they contacted.

“I guess we got a pilot at our house and he says he got ejected,” the caller said. “He ejected from a plane.” The dispatcher, according to the Post, was taken aback by this — which seems understandable, given that 911 calls typically do not involve crashed military hardware.

The initial caller repeated their description of the unlikely but true event; eventually, the pilot got on the phone and explained that, yes, they had indeed ejected from their plane and had landed in a residential area. “Ma’am, I’m a pilot in a military aircraft, and I ejected. So I just rode a parachute down to the ground,” the pilot explained. “Can you please send an ambulance?”

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Writing at the Post, Kim Bellware and Kyle Rempfer note that some of the 911 call transcript was redacted. The investigation into the reasons for the ejection and crash is currently underway, suggesting that this isn’t the last we’ll hear about this incident or its aftermath.

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