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F-16 crashes near national park

A U.S. Air Force F-16D Fighting Falcon. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Andrew Lee)
May 01, 2024

A U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon crashed on Tuesday near New Mexico’s Holloman Air Force Base, which is located by White Sands National Park. The pilot survived the crash with “minor injuries.”

A press release by the Holloman Air Force Base explained that the U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon, which was assigned to the 49th Wing, crashed near White Sands National Park at roughly 11:50 a.m. on Tuesday. Air Force officials noted that only one pilot was on board the F-16 and that the pilot “successfully ejected” prior to the crash.

After ejecting from the F-16, the pilot was transported to a hospital for medical treatment, according to the press release. In a post on X, formerly Twitter, the 49th Wing wrote, “The sole pilot on board ejected and was treated and released from a medical facility with minor injuries.”

The Holloman Air Force Base warned non-emergency personnel to avoid the area surrounding the F-16 crash to prevent the potential exposure to any hazardous chemicals that could have been on the aircraft. 

“Emergency response teams are responding to the scene using the entrance road into White Sands National Park,” the Air Force added. “White Sands National Park is open but certain areas are currently closed to the public to allow for emergency response.”

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In an alert on its website, White Sands National Park warned visitors that the park was closed beyond mile marker three due to an “emergency response to an active incident.”

The Post Millennial reported that Holloman Air Force Base houses the 54th Fighter Group, which includes the 8th Fighter Squadron, the 54th Fighter Group, the 54th Training Squadron, the 54th Operations Support Squadron, the 311th Fighter Squadron, and the 314th Fighter Squadron.

According to the Air Force base’s website, Holloman also serves as one of the Air Force’s F-16 training hubs and graduates roughly 180 Fighting Falcon pilots each year.

The Air Force Times reported that Tuesday’s crash is the fourth F-16 accident recorded over the past year. The three other accidents were reported by the U.S. fleet in South Korea. The Air Force Times also reported that data obtained from the Air Force Safety Center in 2021 shows that roughly three F-16s are involved in accidents each year.