Military plane crashes in field in Mississippi; pilots safe

COLUMBUS, MS (WMC) - A military plane crashed near Columbus Air Force Base in Mississippi.

The plane crashed in a field off of Highway 373 near Barton Ferry Road around 8:30 a.m.

Air Force officials said the T-38C Talon II training jet crashed in a remote area near the base.

The jet was being controlled by an instructional pilot and student pilot, who were participating in a training exercise.

Officials said both pilots ejected safely. They did not sustain any significant injuries.

Firefighters were able to extinguish the fire and secure the area.

"The aircraft is considered a high-performance aircraft and we've used it for a number of years," said Lieutenant Colonel Marc Deshaies at Columbus Air Force Base. "Just last year, in particular, flew nearly 12,000 hours and nearly 12,000 sorties just here at Columbus Air Force Base."

A team of first responders and investigators combed the scene, gathered evidence and data, and talked to witnesses to try to determine the cause of the accident.

"Safety is at the forefront of both care for the pilots throughout all of this and the greater IP and student community force has been definitely of prime concern for Team Blaze and the members of the 14th Flying Training Wing," Lt. Col. Deshaies said.

Lt. Col. Deshaies said he's grateful the crash wasn't worse, and his pilots are OK.

"These men and women sacrifice to serve and it's absolutely at the forefront of the team blaze mission to care for them and their families," Lt. Col. Deshaies said.

Sergio Morales said the impact of the crash was so loud, he thought it was an intentional explosion of some sort.

"I thought it was dynamite going off and blowing up a beaver dam or something," Morales said.

Morales was working on a farm early Wednesday morning when he heard the aircraft hit the ground.

"We were out here putting that pivot together over here and just heard like three booms and right over the trees we saw a big black cloud of smoke," Morales said.

He later learned what he'd witnessed was the result of the military aircraft crashing just a few miles away.

"I was hoping it was nothing like that, but we did kind of notice that the planes just stopped flying over us," Morales said. "They're here flying back and forth constantly all day."

Flying operations were suspended for the rest of the day in Columbus, and military officials are not releasing the names of the pilots at this time.

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