WASHINGTON: A supersonic F-16 fighter collided Tuesday with a small Cessna trainer over South Carolina killing both people in the Cessna and spreading debris over a wide area, US officials said.
The mid-air collision occurred late in the morning about 11 miles (20 kilometers) north of Charleston, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said.
The US Air Force identified the F-16 pilot as Major Aaron Johnson, based at Shaw Air Force Base in the centre of the southern American state.
Local media said Johnson — an F-16 pilot since 2005, according to his LinkedIn page — was alert and walking after ejecting from his fighter.
A spokesman for the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) in Washington told AFP that both people in the two-seat, single-engine Cessna 150 were killed. Their identities were not immediately released.
Debris was spread across an area near the lakeside town of Moncks Corner, where residents told local media they had seen a “fireball” fall from the sky.
The crash site, near a small civilian airport, lies near a swath of South Carolina identified on aviation charts as a “military operation area” where fighter aircraft are known to exercise.
The NTSB is leading an investigation into the tragedy.
The F-16, a mainstay of the US Air Force, can fly at twice the speed of sound. The Cessna 150, by comparison, cruises no faster than 120 miles per hour.