An F-16 fighter jet that had ordnance on board crashed at Ellington Airport Wednesday morning, injuring the pilot and prompting the shutdown of a nearby highway as well as an evacuation at the airport.
The jet and its pilot were on a training mission as part of the Noble Eagle air defense program that began after September 11. The aircraft belonged to the North American Aerospace Command.
The fighter jet was taking off when a series of explosions were heard and smoke rose into the air above one of Ellington's runways. The pilot safely ejected but was being evaluated at a hospital, various media reported Wednesday.
Master Sgt. Sean Cowher, public affairs superintendent for the 147th Attack Wing, said that as soon as plume of smoke rose for miles, Houston police firefighters and the airport system assisted in dealing with the emergency.
Further, one-mile evacuation area was established as a precaution due to the ammunition on board the F-16. “The swift action has mitigated further damage, defending military and community from harm,” said Colonel Matthew Barker, Vice Wing Commander for the 147th Attack Wing.
When the fighter jet caught fire in the morning it was taking off with ammunition. The fighter aircraft was under the direction of the bi-national organization between the United States and Canada that is responsible for securing the North American airspace.
Houston’s Office of Emergency Management announced that “Personnel from Ellington Field are being evacuated, and residents in the area can expect to see increased traffic and emergency vehicles.”