Two U.S. Air force pilots ejected from a U-2 Spy plane early Tuesday morning around 9 am local time, just before the aircraft crashed in a rural area near Sacramento during a training mission, the U.S. Air Force said. According to a U.S. official, one pilot was killed while the other was injured.
The Air Force originally said that the two pilots “safely ejected” from the aircraft.
Sgt. Charity Barrett of Beale Air Force Base confirmed that one pilot was killed while the other was injured. It is unclear what kind of condition the injured pilot is in.
A search and rescue operation was then underway to find the two pilots, which according to the Air Force were near the site of the crash.
Eyewitness picture of U2 crash at Sutter Buttes. pic.twitter.com/e1dKYj8UgM
— Mike Luery (@KCRALuery) September 20, 2016
The single-engine surveillance jet is from the 9th Reconnaissance Wing at Beale Air Force Base.
The Beale Air Force base is home a fleet of high-altitude spy planes. The U-2 flies up to 70,000 feet in the air, which is the highest of any U.S. military plane.
The U-2 was flown by the CIA during the Cold War for surveillance missions. One of them was shot down in 1960 over the Soviet Union. The pilot, Francis Gary Powers, was captured and two years later was traded for a Soviet spy. The incident showed that manned spy planes posed a high risk, so now drones carry out many surveillance missions. The U-2 is to be retired by 2019 as a result.