Beaufort County officials say a pilot was able to safely eject before his military plane crashed close to a Marine Corps Air Station on Friday.
The county sheriff’s office said the crash occurred around 11:45 a.m. on Little Barnwell Island in the Grays Hill community. Officials at nearby Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort said the F-35B plane was stationed there. An announcement said the plane was part of the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing of F-35B Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron 501.
Deputies say the pilot was recovered and was taken to a medical facility for evaluation. There were no injuries on the ground and no one else aboard the aircraft.
Little Barnwell Island is a lightly-developed marsh island located along Whale Branch. MCAS Beaufort is only a few miles east of the crash site.
“It’s a rural area and the property damage is going to be assessed,” Sheriff’s Office Capt. Bob Bromage said. “I’m not aware of any structures being hit by the plane.”
The F-35B is a relatively new aircraft that is capable of taking off and landing vertically. MCAS Beaufort in 2015 became one of the first Marine bases to host a squadron and the planes have only recently been cleared for deployment after problems during the development and testing process. They have been flying stateside for several years, however.