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Two Air Force Jets Crash in Arizona

February 17, 2000

YUMA, Ariz. (AP) _ Two Air Force F-16 fighter jets from military bases in Arizona and Georgia crashed during training exercises, but the pilots in both managed to eject safely.

The accidents involving the $20 million aircraft occurred Wednesday. Both were under investigation.

In Arizona, Maj. Anthony Barrell, from Luke Air Force Base near Glendale, was flying over the Barry M. Goldwater bombing range in southwestern Arizona near Yuma.

Barrell was flying as part of a four-jet formation. But before the start of an aerial engagement, Barrell radioed he had a problem and turned the jet toward the Gila Bend Air Force Auxiliary Field to recover, a base spokesman said. He ejected en route to Gila Bend.

At Luke, the world’s largest F-16 training base, all F-16s were grounded until a cause for the crash can be determined. Wednesday’s crash was the eighth since the fall 1998 involving a jet flying a mission from base west of Phoenix.

Brig. Gen. John Barry, of Luke, said that with availability of the vast 2.7 million-acre Goldwater Range, Luke flies its planes the way they are flown in combat.

``So, if they’re going to start showing the cracks someplace in the system, they’re probably going to show here,″ Barry said.

In Georgia, two pilots managed to eject safely from an F-16 jet from Moody Air Force Base on Wednesday night.

Maj. Charles B. Kearney and 1st Lt. Christoph Hutchins were participating in night-vision goggle training when they were forced to eject, said 1st Lt. DeDe Halfhill, a base spokeswoman.

The F-16 crashed in Donalsonville, about 90 miles away.

The pilots were transported back to Moody by helicopter for medical evaluation, Halfhill said.

Update hourly