LUKE AIR FORCE BASE, AZ (CBS5) - An F-16 fighter jet on a routine training mission crashed in a field near Luke Air Force Base early Wednesday evening.
Both pilots ejected safely, officials said.
A Rural Metro crew stationed near Luke saw the crash. They picked up the pilots who were walking down a farm road and took them to the hospital. The pilots, whose names were not released, are expected to be OK.
Witnesses said they heard the engine sputtering and popping just before the aircraft went down a little before 7 p.m. The jet is with the 309th Fighter Squadron.
"The jet exploded. It went boom," said witness Eva DelaCruz who lives near the base. "It exploded again and we looked up and saw the jet with a lot of flames. Like a lot of fire and I said that's not normal because we see jets left and right."
Another witness said the pilots ejected shortly after the plane took off to the south. The plane flew unmanned for about a minute before crashing to the ground just outside the fence of the base.
"We were the first ones there before anybody else," recounted DelaCruz. "And my grandsons ran across the field to look at the guys and they said one was hurt, was bleeding from the nose."
In a statement, Luke AFB officials reported both pilots were uninjured. A spokesman for Rural/Metro told CBS5 one of the pilots was complaining of back pain.
Helicopter footage showed plumes of smoke rising from the crash scene near Glendale Avenue and Sarival Road, about two to three miles west of the base.
Maricopa County sheriff's deputies have closed nearby roadways.
The Air Force will conduct a thorough investigation to determine the cause of the accident
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