Fighter planes crash off Florida

Two US fighter jets on a training mission crashed in mid-air near Florida, killing one pilot. The second pilot was rescued, according to the US Air Force.


One pilot died and a second was rescued after two US F-15C fighter planes crashed in mid-air Wednesday near Florida, the Air Force said.

The jets assigned to the 33rd Fighter Wing were on a training mission when they went missing at about 2:00 pm (1900 GMT) over the Gulf of Mexico, about 50 miles (80 kilometers) from Eglin Air Force Base in Florida, according to a statement from the base.

Coast Guard crews located the two pilots, and the one who survived the crash was in good condition at the Eglin base hospital, it said.

"The 33rd FW Nomads and Team Eglin have suffered a great loss today and my heart goes out to the family and friends of our fallen airman," Colonel Todd Harmer, commander of the 33rd Fighter Wing, said in a statement.

"We will continue to do everything we can to assist our families and airmen at this tragic time."

The US Air Force recently returned to service nearly all of its F-15 A to D jets, after grounding them following the crash of an F-15C in Missouri in November 2007. The pilot in that case ejected safely and emerged with minor injuries.

Around 450 aircraft, some 60 percent of the Air Force's F-15 fleet, were grounded for inspections following that crash, but only nine F-15 A to D jets remain grounded, the spokeswoman said.

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