A $115.5 million military plane crashed near a South Carolina Marine Corps Air Station just before noon on Friday, authorities said.
The pilot managed to eject himself from the F-35B fighter jet and is still being evaluated for injuries, according to a press release from the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office. No one else was hurt in the incident.
The crash, reported around 11:45 a.m. near Clarendon Road and Joe Allen Drive in the Grays Hill area, marks the first of its kind for the pricey aircraft, Marine Corps spokesperson Capt. Christopher Harrison told the Island Packet. And it comes a day after the F-35B conducted an airstrike in Afghanistan in support of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel.
The aircraft’s multi million-dollar price tag also includes air frame, engine and contractor fees, Harrison explained.
The scene of the crash was secured around 2 p.m. Friday, though smoke still continued to hang in the air near the Grays Hill Boat Landing later in the afternoon. Authorities are encouraging citizens to avoid the area as they continue to investigate what caused the plane’s plummet.
“It was crazy. I literally looked out and there were boats and helicopters everywhere,” witness Kensley Crosby told the Island Packet.
“This is such a small community, most people don’t even know we’re out here, so that was a lot to have happening.”