Source: Associated Press, Glendale, Ariz.
The pilots flying an F-16 fighter jet that went down near Luke Air Force Base in suburban Phoenix reported hitting a bird shortly after takeoff, the Air Force general who commands their base said Thursday. The two pilots, who were practicing landings and takeoffs at the base Wednesday evening, ejected safely and the fighter crashed in a farm field near the base.
“Shortly before the accident the pilot reported a bird strike,” Brig. Gen. Mike Rothstein told reporters at the base 15 miles west of Phoenix. The plane had just taken off when the pilots reported hitting a bird and the engine in the plane malfunctioned, 56th Operations Group commander Col. John Hanna said. They had little time to react.