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Pilot injured after a military fighter jet crashes near international airport in Albuquerque

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A military fighter jet on its way to an Air Force base in California crashed Tuesday near the international airport in New Mexico's largest city, sending up a large plume of smoke and injuring the pilot.

The pilot, the only person on board, was able to escape after crashing around 2 p.m. on a hillside on the south side of Albuquerque's airport and was taken to a hospital with serious injuries, according to the city's fire department.

U.S. manufacturer Lockheed Martin identified the downed plane as an F-35 that left Fort Worth, Texas, earlier Tuesday and was headed to Edwards Air Force Base near Los Angeles. A spokesperson for Lockheed said in an email to The Associated Press that the fighter jet crashed after the pilot stopped to refuel at Kirtland Air Force Base in New Mexico.

Neither of the Air Force bases immediately responded to requests for more information.

Located on the southern edge of Albuquerque, Kirtland is home to the 377th Air Base Wing, which conducts nuclear operations and trains and equips expeditionary forces. It's also home to the Air Force Research Laboratory.

Patrick White, who was driving in the area at the time of the crash, told AP that he saw the aircraft trailing low to the ground, kicking up a cloud of dirt and dust. He said it briefly disappeared from his line of sight, and then he saw “an enormous plume of black smoke.”

When he drove past the crash, he said he saw a piece of the fighter jet in the middle of the road.

It marks the second crash of a military plane in New Mexico in the past month. In April, an F-16 Fighting Falcon went down in a remote area near Holloman Air Force Base in the southern part of the state, leaving that pilot with minor injuries after he ejected from the aircraft.

Associated Press
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