Norwegian F-16s Collide Over Nevada Desert
LAS VEGAS, Nev. (AP) _ Two Norwegian Air Force F-16 jets collided during aerial war games, and authorities say it was a miracle no one was injured when one of the planes crashed in a trailer community.
The pilot of the downed $13 million craft parachuted to safety, while the second plane returned safely to Nellis Air Force Base on Thursday.
″The plane lit right in the middle of the town of Rachel,″ said Lincoln County Sheriff Larry Wilkinson. ″It’s got to be classed as a miracle that no one was injured. There are trailers and power lines all around and it missed everything. It hit in about the only place it could without doing some damage.″
The planes carry live ammunition, but Wilkinson said none exploded.
Rachel is a tiny desert community of 50 people, 125 miles northwest of Las Vegas on the edge of the Nevada Test Site. Residents said the crash shook 20 trailers, which comprise most of the town. The trailers, which include a school, a bar and a store, are widely scattered, Wilkinson said.
Some residents reported problems with smoke inhalation and one woman was transported to Las Vegas to be checked, Wilkinson said.
The pilot of the downed craft, Capt. Leif Granseth, was picked up and returned to Nellis by helicopter. He was treated at the base hospital for bruises and released, according to Nellis spokesman Lt. Col. John Kuminecz.
″About all that’s left is the canopy from the cockpit,″ Wilkinson said of the plane’s wreckage. The area was cordoned off by Air Force and county officials.
The pilot who flew his F-16 back to Nellis, Capt. Jensu Petre Larson, escaped injury, Kuminecz said.
Both planes were assigned to the 332nd Squadron, Rygge Air Base, near Moss, Norway. The planes and pilots were participating in Red Flag, simulated combat training exercises held five times a year at the Nevada base.
Kuminecz said both planes were entering the Nellis Bombing and Gunnery Range when they collided.