A U-2 spy plane crashed in California on Tuesday during a training drill, killing the pilot and leaving one person injured.
The U2 crash took place in Norther California on Tuesday morning near a small mountain range known as Sutter Buttes. The small US military plane was reportedly on a training mission when the incident took place. According to a report from Beale Air Force Base, the two pilots were the only individuals on board. The report also claims that the two ejected from their seats when they realized that they were in jeopardy.
Military officials stated that the U-2 spy plane crashed a few minutes after take-off from the Beale Airforce Base at around 9 am. The officials also stated that the plane was on a training mission, though they did not disclose the names of the pilots. The officials, however, pointed out that the base quickly launched an investigation to determine the cause of the crash.
A report from the Appeal Democrat newspaper stated that the pilots were recovered from an area that is remote and difficult to access. Michael Berry, an employee at the Sutter County Agriculture Department witnessed the crash and he described it to the newspaper.
“We heard a loud boom and saw a white puff of smoke. We saw the pilots eject and it looked like two parachutes came out.”
Mr. Berry was working in the area around the time of the crash which resulted in a huge fire that consumed 250 acres of the grassland. Sutter County fire chief John Shalowitz reported that 20 fire engines were deployed to deal with the situation. A report from CBS Sacramento claims that a parachute was recovered from the area of the crash. Authorities are yet to confirm whether the pilots faced parachute failure which led to the death of one and injury to the other.
The U-2 Spy plane was assigned to the 1st Reconnaissance Squadron though it was on a routine run at the time of the crash according to Base commander Col. Larry Broadwell. He also stated that the pilots would mourn the loss of their colleagues and the base would support the family of the deceased pilot. Col. Broadwell also gave a few words of encouragement to the family and the pilots.
“These incidents, while extremely tragic and hard for us to overcome, they’re incidents that we do overcome.”
The U-2 reconnaissance and surveillance plane is a very agile plan that can fly more than 70,000 feet in the air. The plane can handle extreme altitudes and can fly twice as high as regular commercial planes. Its abilities are also equally taxing because the plane is one of the most difficult planes to fly at low altitude. This is because its features are built to allow it to fly close to space.
The Beale Air Force Base hosts the U-2 which is usually a single-seat airplane as well as the two-seat version of the plane which is often used for training purposes. The base is also home to other popular aircrafts such as the unmanned surveillance drone called the RQ-4 Global Hawk and the T-38 Talon. Roughly 4,500 military personnel are posted at the base.
The investigation on the U-2 Crash is expected to mainly focus on whether the parachutes built into the ejection seats had a problem. Normally the pilot is expected to land safely once the parachute has been deployed. This means that something probably went wrong during the seat ejection process and most likely with the chutes. One of the most probable theories suggests that the pilot who died might have hit debris after ejecting.
[Featured Image by Rich Pedroncelli /AP Images]