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F-16 Fighter Plane Reported Down; Crew Parachutes to Safety

November 27, 1996

RARDEN, Ohio (AP) _ A National Guard F-16D fighter plane crashed this morning into a wooded hillside in southern Ohio. The two crew members parachuted from the plane to safety, authorities said.

Authorities received a report of a plane crash about 11:15 a.m.

``They see the impact point,″ said Phil Malone, senior communications officer for the Scioto County Sheriff’s Department. ``They’re trying to get to it at this time.″

The area is sparsely populated, and no one on the ground was injured, officials said.

The two-seater plane, based with Springfield Air National Guard’s 178th Fighter Wing, was on a training mission, said Col. Gene Brandewie.

The two pilots bailed out and were found walking nearby. They were en route to Pike Community Hospital, said nurse Joann Williams. She said they had no apparent injuries and were being transported for observation.

Footage shot by WBNS-TV in Columbus from a helicopter showed the plane in charred pieces on the ground. Authorities were approaching the site by foot.

The sheriff’s department said the plane carried live ammunition and people were being told to stay away from the site, though there were no evacuations. However, Maj. Jim Bowling, spokesman for the Ohio National Guard, said there were no live weapons on the plane.

WBNS-TV in Columbus said the military had sealed off the area.

The station reported that witnesses saw a trail of smoke coming from the plane before it went down. It was not known if the plane was burning.

The site is in a Military Operations Area where training exercises are done below 5,000 feet, said Roger Danner, manager of Brush Creek State Forest, about 20 miles away.

The crash was at least the fifth in 1996 for the F-16, one of the most heavily used U.S. military aircraft. It was also the second military plane crash in a week. Last Friday, an Air Force HC-130 transport plane crashed into the ocean off Northern California, killing 10 reservists. One man survived.

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