An F-16 fighter jet crashed on Wednesday in a wooded area not far from Ft. Polk in western Louisiana, but the pilot was able to eject and there were no serious injuries, officials said.
The jet was part of the Oklahoma Air National Guard and had flown out of the Ellington Field Joint Reserve Base in the Houston area, said Tech Sgt. Rebecca Imwalle. It participates in a joint mission there on domestic and international threat protection for the United States and Canada, she said.
The crash occurred south of DeRidder in Beauregard Parish, said State Police spokesman Derek Senegal. Only the pilot was aboard.
"The pilot was able to eject safely from the plane and was later picked up by the military personnel," he said.
The pilot was taken to Ft. Polk's hospital, but had no serious injuries, said Kavanaugh Breazeale, the base's director of public affairs. Ft. Polk personnel had secured the area.
The cause of the crash was being investigated, said Imwalle. She did not have details on where the pilot was heading at the time of the crash.
Oklahoma news outlets reported that the pilot was Major Alexander Drummond, whose family issued a statement. Drummond's father, Gentner Drummond, is a candidate for Oklahoma attorney general and a former Air Force pilot.
"What I know at this point is that during a training run over Louisiana, Alexander had to ditch his F-16 in an empty Beauregard Parish field, sparing any injuries on the ground," his father said in the statement. "When you serve in the military, you put your life on the line day-in and day-out – whether our country is at war or not."
Editor's note: This story was updated on March 23 with details on the jet's origins and a statement from the pilot's family.