CLINTON (WJZ)– Training and luck were both on fighter pilot’s side Wednesday, when his plane failed mid-flight.
The jet crashed down just outside of neighborhoods in Prince George’s County near Andrews Air Force Base.
The experienced military pilot said when the plane failed, he may have kept going only on air flow in order to get away from neighborhoods.
“Training is all the time, every week,” said Brig. Gen. Scott Kelly of the Maryland Air National Guard.
Neighbors watched the pilot safely parachute out.
“I’ve never seen anything like this,” one neighbor said.
General Kelly has spent decades in the cockpit of an A-10, another type of fighter jet.
“Anywhere you hear there’s a crash, OK, what’s happening with the crew? Did they get out?” Kelly said.
Military investigators are still trying to pinpoint the problem that sent the 30-year-old plane spiraling to the ground.
Officials say it was likely a mechanical failure that ended what was a routine training mission.
33 years and 4,000 flight miles into his military career, General Kelly says there are some problems pilots can’t predict, but they can train for.
“You look at the pilot and what he did to avoid populated areas, and that’s one thing we’re all taught to do,” he said.
The pilot saved hundreds of lives before he bailed out at the last minute to save his own.
“Very fortunate. We can replace machinery. We can’t replace the people,” Kelly said.
There were no deaths and damage to only one home.
The pilot is out of the hospital and was home with his family hours after the crash with only minor injuries.
Investigators gave themselves 72 hours from the time of the crash to figure out what went wrong.