An image published on social media after the crash shows the F-35B Lightning II aircraft resting on its nose. The crash was the result of the aircraft’s failed hovering test.
On Dec. 15, 2022 Lockheed Martin said in a statement that an F-35B Lighting II Joint Strike Fighter crashed on the runaway at Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base in Fort Worth, Texas.
The pilot ejected safely, according to the statement. Pentagon Press Secretary Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder said during a Thursday press conference that the pilot was a US government employee.
The plane had not yet been transferred to the US government, Ryder said. Lockheed manufactures the F-35B for the US Marine Corps (USMC).
“We are aware of the F-35B crash on the shared runway at Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base in Fort Worth and understand that the pilot ejected successfully. Safety is our priority, and we will follow appropriate investigation protocol,” reads the statement from Lockheed.
An image published on social media after the crash shows the aircraft resting on its nose and, as the video filmed by Kitt Wilder in this post shows, the crash was the result of the aircraft’s failed hovering test.
As reported by USNI News, Lockheed Martin’s final assembly plant for the F-35 shares a runway with Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base in Fort Worth. As part of the test flight for the F-35Bs – which is known for its ability to have a short takeoff and vertical landing – pilots will take the aircraft up to test its ability to hover, Defense News reported.
The Marine Corps also had an issue with the F-35B Lightning II aircraft in early December. The nose of the plane touched the ground while being towed due to a malfunction with the landing gear system, Marine Corps Times reported.
The pilot had landed at Kadena Air Base in Okinawa, Japan, due to a suspected electrical system problem. The incident is currently under investigation.
Noteworthy, as the following video shows, the F-35B pilot involved in yesterday accident had to do a 0-0 ejection. Actually, ejection seats are optimized to operate at minimum speed and altitude. This is called 0-0 ejection, meaning a seat designed to perform safe ejection and man-seat separation at 0 feet and 0 Knots.
So if you are sitting in a parked aircraft, you call pull the handle and theoretically survive.
However, there are a couple of other factors that need to be considered as well:
1. Aircraft attitude, specifically pitch and roll – some seats are only zero-zero if the aircraft nose/wings are level.
2. Vertical speed – if the aircraft is in a descent close to the ground, the seat might be out of the safe ejection envelope.
Photo and video credit: Kitt Wilder