Stealth Fighter Crashes in the Desert; Pilot Ejects Safely
ALAMOGORDO, N.M. (AP) _ An F-117A stealth fighter crashed and burned in the desert, destroying an unoccupied trailer home, authorities said. The pilot ejected without serious injury.
The $46 million radar-evading plane from nearby Holloman Air Force Base was on a training mission when it went down in the foothills about eight miles from the base shortly before 9:30 p.m. Tuesday, the Air Force and State Police said.
The cause of the crash was under investigation, base spokesman Bob Pepper said. The Air Force sealed off the crash site and declared it a ″national security area.″
Flaming debris damaged two other mobile homes, including one from which a tenant fled unscathed, said Don Scott, who owns the three trailers. He said he had been using the mobile home that was destroyed as a storage building. The pilot, Capt. John B. Mills, was taken to the base hospital with apparently minor injuries, Pepper said. No other injuries were reported.
The black, arrowhead-shaped F-117A is manufactured by Lockheed Corp. and was used in the Persian Gulf War and the invasion of Panama.
There have been at least three known crashes of the single-pilot fighter - one crash when Lockheed was testing the jet, and two fatal accidents in California and Nevada in 1986 and 1987.
Censored Air Force reports said that pilot fatigue and disorientation may have been a factor in those two crashes.