Moncks Corner, S.C. Fighter Jet and Private Plane Collide, Jul 2015
CORONER IDENTIFIES FATHER, SON KILLED IN MID-AIR COLLISION.
Moncks Corner, S.C. - Search and rescue officials handling the investigation into a mid-air collision between an F-16 and a Cessna identified the two Moncks Corner men killed in the crash.
MICHAEL JOHNSON, 68, and his 30-year-old son JOE JOHNSON, were killed in the mid-air crash Tuesday, according to Coroner Bill Salisbury. He said the father and son were making a day trip to Myrtle Beach at the time of the collision.
MICHAEL JOHNSON'S body was recovered early Wednesday morning in the Cooper River, Salisbury said. Crews are still searching the water for remains of JOE JOHNSON, he added.
Currently, they have located JOE JOHNSON'S wallet.
Federal investigators and local authorities have been combing through a wide swath of rural, sparsely populated land as they try to determine what caused the F-16 fighter jet from Shaw AFB to slam into the much smaller Cessna.
The NTSB's air safety investigator Dennis Diaz said investigators were in the very early stages of collecting data from the crash sites and could offer few insights currently.
But Diaz did say that crews were working through the site of the Cessna's wreckage on Wednesday and would focus their attention on the F-16 site on Thursday.
Diaz said the search area for the Cessna is roughly 2,000 feet while the scene for the F-16 is significantly smaller.
Part of the investigation, Diaz said, would focus on what sort of recording devices the two aircraft had. The F-16 did have an in-flight recorder, he said, but the Cessna did not. However, there may have been other recording devices in the plane at the time of the collision, Diaz added.
NTSB investigators are also looking for more information from witnesses who saw the crash and the aftermath. Witnesses are being asked to contact the Berkeley County Sheriff's Office to make a statement that will be relayed to the NTSB.
Initial reports suggested there was no damage on the ground from debris, but people at a small campground along the river's bank pointed to two campers with damage significant enough to keep people from living there.
The jet's pilot, Maj. AARON JOHNSON from the 55th Fighter Squadron, ejected from his aircraft safely and was taken to Joint Base Charleston's medical clinic for observation, officials from Shaw Air Force Base in Sumter said in a news release.
The jet crashed into woods around the privately owned Lewisfield Plantation, an estate dating to 1750.
"We heard the plane crash," said Leo Ramsey, who has worked at the plantation for about 30 years.
"And then we took off from where I was at. I guess I was about a half-mile from it, when we saw a cloud of smoke."
Ramsey and two other workers found burning metal, splintered trees and a flaming crater where the jet had crash-landed, he said.
Col. Stephen Jost, commander of the 20th Fighter Squadron at Shaw Air Force Base, said Maj. JOHNSON parachuted to the ground and was taken by plantation workers to Berkeley County EM5 personnel, who then took him to the Charleston base.
JOHNSON was flying solo, practicing
instrument approaches to a military base and was communicating
with Charleston air traffic controllers, military officials said.
Jost said he thought it was overcast at the time of the collision, but he was not aware of any weather related problems.
Wayne Ware told The Post and Courier of Charleston he was going for a walk when he heard the crash happen. He did not see the initial, but heard it.
"I turned around, and I saw the jet. Pieces started falling out of the sky," Ware said, telling the papers the jet's engine landed at a campground.
The Air Force has flown F-16's since the 1970's though very few active-duty squadrons still fly them. F-16's from Shaw Air Force Base, about 35 miles east of Columbia, routinely fly training missions over eastern South Carolina and the Atlantic.
The Cessna 150 is a two-seat plane that debuted in 1959 and remains one of the most common single-engine planes in the U.S. The Cessna's maximum altitude is about 15,000 feet, according to the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association. Most models weigh about 1,500 pounds when fully fueled.
By comparison, an F-16 is about 50 feet long and weighs nearly 10 tons, not counting fuel or weapons. Jost said the F-16 was not carrying any live munitions at the time of the collision.
ABC News4 Article 2015-07-07