Stealth Fighter Crashes in New Mexico
ZUNI, N.M. (AP) _ An F-117-A stealth fighter from Holloman Air Force Base crashed during a training flight, the Air Force said today. The pilot’s fate was unknown.
Holloman spokesman Bob Pepper said the crash of the radar-evading plane happened about 10:25 p.m. Wednesday. The aircraft was on a routine training mission when the crash occurred in the arid foothills of the Zuni Mountains, about five miles south of here.
The Gallup Independent quoted an unidentified witness as saying that he saw a fireball, ``like the sun coming up,″ at the time of the crash.
A rescue team from Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque was handling the recovery of the aircraft, Pepper said. The crash site is on the Zuni Indian Reservation in northwestern New Mexico, more than 200 miles to the northwest of Holloman.
The pilot wasn’t identified but Pepper said the plane was part of the 49th Fighter Wing based at Holloman. Pepper said he didn’t know whether the pilot was injured.
A Gallup police dispatcher who wouldn’t give her name said the crash site was apparently sealed off from local authorities and the public.
In August 1992, another of the $46 million, single-pilot planes crashed near Holloman. The pilot was able to eject and was not seriously injured.
There have been at least three other known crashes of the once supersecret planes _ one when Lockheed was testing the jet, and two fatal accidents in California and Nevada in 1986 and 1987.
The planes use special design and materials to make them less visible on radar screens. During much of the 1980s it was such a secret project that the military didn’t acknowledge the stealth fighter existed.