A military pilot who had to emergency-eject from an F-35 fighter jet can be heard repeatedly pleading for an ambulance in newly released audio of the 911 call.
The four-minute recording occurred after the pilot parachuted into a North Charleston, South Carolina, resident’s backyard on Sept. 17.
At the beginning of the audio, the resident can be heard telling the emergency dispatcher about the pilot’s landing, saying, “We got a pilot in the house. I guess he landed in my backyard, and we’re trying to see if we can get an ambulance to the house please,” before saying his address.
Then the pilot gets on the call, saying, “Ma’am, a military jet crashed. I’m the pilot. We need to get rescue rolling. I’m not sure where the airplane is. It would have crash-landed somewhere. I ejected.”
The 47-year-old pilot, who has decades of experience in the line of work, said he felt “okay” besides a backache after what he estimated to be a 2,000-foot fall. But later in the call, he again asked the dispatcher to send an ambulance.
U.S. military officials said the pilot, who has since been released from a hospital without any serious injuries, was flying near Joint Base Charleston on Sunday afternoon when an undisclosed reason forced him to eject from the aircraft. That reason is still under investigation.
The F-35 Lightning II jet was initially unaccounted for as its tracker wasn’t working for unknown reasons. Then Monday, a state law enforcement helicopter found debris from the jet in a field about two hours northeast of the base.
On Thursday, a report from the Government Accountability Office urged military services to “reassess the future sustainment strategy” of the aircraft, as the jet program cost is planned to hit $1.7 trillion. It laid out multiple concerns about maintenance and operation costs coupled with low-performance rates.