Pilot Rescued in Hawaiian Waters

Brig. Gen. Robert Lee
Brig. Gen. Robert Lee

By Stephanie Lum

HONOLULU (KHNL) -- A dramatic rescue by U.S. Coast Guard crews as they pluck a downed fighter pilot from the ocean off Honolulu International Airport.

The U.S. Coast Guard springs into action, dispatching its chopper after a report that an F-15 fighter jet and its pilot had gone done.

The call for help came in at approximately 1:37 p.m. Friday.

The military fighter jet crashed 60 miles south of Oahu. The Hawaii Air National Guard says the pilot lost control of his aircraft during a routine training mission.

Everything went well Friday morning. The pilot and his jet, like the F-15s you see here, reporting no problems flying over the Pacific Ocean.

But Friday afternoon, the pilot and his plane ended up in the ocean, 60 miles south of the Honolulu Airport.

He was rescued by the U.S. Coast Guard and airlifted to the Queen's Medical Center.

"I got the chance to visit with him in the hospital and he's terrific," said Brig. Gen. Robert Lee, the State Adjutant General.

Lee says the pilot experienced mechanical difficulties and was losing altitude before ejecting from the F-15.

Recently, all F-15s were pulled out of service after a 2007 crash in Missouri. An investigation revealed cracks and other defects in the body of the aircraft.

Lee says the F-15s in Hawaii were inspected and nothing out of the ordinary was found.

"However, we have 7 aircraft in the inspections the dimensions were not per the plan, so that's the disposition we are waiting the final word from the Washington DC," said Lee.

This is the first time an F-15 assigned to the local 1-99 Fighter Squadron has crashed since they took to Hawaii skies in 1987.

Now, an investigation by the U.S. Air Force and Air National Guard will determine what went wrong.

General Lee says he isn't sure whether the F-15s will be grounded following Friday's incident.

And there's no word on when the downed jet will be raised out of the water.