Fresno Based F-16 Crashes In The Desert: Pilot Ejects To Safety

An Air National Guard pilot flying an F-16 based out of Fresno was forced to ditch{}his jet{}Thursday afternoon in the California desert.

Colonel Clay Garrison of the 144th Fighter Wing says Thursday afternoon at 3:35 while on a routine mission the pilot encountered trouble at 12-thousand feet. "When the aircraft malfunctions he tries to save the airplane. When that's not possible he saves himself. It appears all the systems in the plane worked correctly because he reached the ground safely."

Col. Garrison says the unidentified pilot was taken to a nearby military hospital for a checkup.{} No one on the ground was hurt.{} The F-16 has a price tag of 21-million dollars and it was built in 1986.

Col. Garrison says there's a reason why they train in the desert.{} "The Owens Valley is a great place to do it cause it is kind of desolate and remote so we can train. {} It's a pretty safe area in case something like this does occur."

The pilot who ejected safely is a seasoned veteran with more than 10-years experience with the F-16.{} The Air National Guard has already secured the site so it can begin an accident investigation.