NEW DELHI: The US military pilot whose F-35 jet went temporarily missing on Sunday is heard repeatedly asking for an ambulance in a bizarre 911 call, according to an audio tape provided to The Associated Press on Thursday.
In the four-minute recording, one can hear a North Charleston resident calmly explaining that a pilot just parachuted into his backyard, along with the pilot who is unsure of what happened to his F-35 jet and a perplexed dispatcher who is trying to make sense of it all.
“We got a pilot in the house, and I guess he landed in my backyard, and we’re trying to see if we could get an ambulance to the house, please,” the resident said.
“Ma’am, a military jet crashed. I’m the pilot. We need to get rescue rolling,” the pilot said. “I’m not sure where the airplane is. It would have crash landed somewhere. I ejected,” the pilot said.
The 47 year-old pilot reported feeling “OK”. Only his back hurt, he added, after falling from an estimated height of 2000 feet.
Further into the call, he made a request for medical help.
“Ma’am, I’m a pilot in a military aircraft, and I ejected. So I just rode a parachute down to the ground. Can you please send an ambulance?” the pilot said.
The F-35 crashed on Sunday after the pilot ejected due to a malfunction, leaving the aircraft in a zombie mode.
The pilot parachuted down in a residential backyard near Charleston International Airport.
An unidentified official attempted to explain that they had “a pilot with his parachute” but no information about what had happened to his plane or word of a crash, in a separate eight-minute dispatch call made public on Thursday to the AP. According to him, “the pilot lost sight of it on his way down due to the weather.”
The official also remembered hearing a “rather loud noise” that “sounded like a tornado, possibly a plane,” approximately 25 minutes earlier.
Unclear why the jet kept flying, the Marine Corps explained that it is designed to shield pilots from danger, claiming that the flight control software would have kept it stable in the absence of a pilot at the controls.
“If the jet is stable in level flight, the jet will attempt to stay there. If it was in an established climb or descent, the jet will maintain a 1G state in that climb or descent until commanded to do something else,” the Marine Corps said.
“This is designed to save our pilots if they are incapacitated or lose situational awareness,” they added.
Responding to why the plane wasn’t tracked, the Corps said, “Normally, aircraft are tracked via radar and transponder codes. Upon pilot ejection, the aircraft is designed to erase (or ‘zeroize’) all secure communication.”
Claiming that the hunt for the plane was impeded further by thunderstorms and low cloud levels, the Corps said that the feature that kept the plane in the air might have also saved the lives of people on the ground in addition to the pilot.
The incident is under investigation, reported AP.