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U.S. Jet Overshoots Japan Runway

July 24, 1998

TOKYO (AP) _ A U.S. F-16 jet fighter trying to take off from an airport in northern Japan shot off the end of the runway, bursting into flames and injuring an American pilot, the U.S. military said.

The pilot, 1st Lt. Melvin B. Simpson from the 35th Fighter Wing at Misawa, suffered burns in the 9 a.m. crash, Misawa Air Base’s public affairs office said in a release. He was first taken to a base hospital for treatment and then transferred to a hospital in Hachinohe, a city near Misawa, the release said.

The plane veered off the runway during routine flight training, ending up in a dirt area where the asphalt ended. The extent of Simpson’s injuries and other details, including his hometown, were not immediately available, base spokeswomen said.

Koji Mori, spokesman for the local Japanese Air Self-Defense Force base, said airport firefighters quickly extinguished the flames.

The Misawa airport, used jointly by the U.S. Air Force, Japan’s Air Self-Defense Force and Japan Air Systems, a Japanese commercial airline, was closed after the accident, Mori said.

The airport, 350 miles northeast of Tokyo, has a single runway.

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