US F-35 pilot admits to not knowing where his fighter jet is in unusual 911 call

Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II
Karolis Kavolelis /

A recording of an emergency 911 call from a local resident has revealed fascinating details about what happened to a United States (US) F-35 pilot after he ejected from his fighter jet near Charleston, South Carolina.  

In the recording sourced by Associated Press, the local resident can be heard trying to explain to the operator that an ambulance is needed for a pilot who has ejected from a plane.  

Understandably the operator is somewhat confused by the story and replied, “sorry, what happened?” 

“We’ve got a pilot in the house, and I guess he landed in my back yard, and we’re trying to see if we can get an ambulance to the house, please,” the Charleston resident responded.  

It is unclear what the pilot is saying in the background, or if he is talking to someone else on another phone, during the interaction between the resident and the operator.  

Later in the call, the pilot advises the 911 operator that he ejected from the aircraft at 2,000 feet and that he was unharmed, though his back was hurting.  

Perhaps the most bizarre moment of the phone call was when the F-35 fighter jet pilot explained to the 911 call handler that he did not know where his aircraft was. 

The pilot can be clearly heard saying, “Ma’am, a military jet crash. I’m the pilot. We need to get rescue rolling. I am not sure where the plane is. It would have crash landed somewhere. I ejected.” 

Further into the call, the pilot, having explained to the operator that he was 47 years old, asked again 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. 

News about a missing aircraft hit the headlines after the US Marine Corps pilot had ejected from his F-35 on September 17, 2023.  

The F-35 was reportedly set on autopilot when the pilot ejected, meaning that the stealth fighter continued to fly until it exhausted its fuel supply.  

Consequently, the US military sought public assistance to locate the aircraft.   

Late on September 18, 2023, Joint Base Charleston in South Carolina announced that personnel from the base and from Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, in close coordination with local authorities, had successfully located a debris field in Williamsburg County. 

In a statement, the Marine Corps said that the auto pilot mode probably helped prevent a much larger catastrophe and possible loss of life.  

The statement read: “The good news is it appeared to work as advertised. The other bit of silver lining in this case is that through the F-35 flying away it avoided crashing into a densely populated area surrounding the airport, and fortunately crashed into an empty field and forested area.” 

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