Rescue crews responded off Oahu’s south shore after a military plane crashed into the ocean.
It happened at approximately 2:28 p.m. five miles south of Sand Island.
“We heard a loud noise and we looked toward the water. There was a large splash. The water was spraying up that didn’t seem normal for wave conditions at the time,” said witness Shelly Guido.
The U.S. Navy says the incident involved a British Hawker Hunter aircraft that was flown by a civilian contractor.
“He was part of a team that was going to provide, they call it red air, or the bad guys in the sky. And they were going to assist some of the navy aircraft that were flying up… He crashed before they could get to the training site,” said Maj. Jeff Hickman with the Hawaii National Guard.
Webcam video from Surfline.com captured the crash, and shows the 47-year-old pilot ejecting from the aircraft prior to impact.
He was picked up by a private sailboat and transferred to the U.S. Coast Guard. Once on shore, he was treated by Emergency Medical Services and taken to the hospital in serious condition.
The pilot was flying in conjunction with Sentry Aloha exercises being hosted by the Hawaii Air National Guard at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.
The Navy says Sentry Aloha exercises have been temporarily suspended in the wake of this accident. However, the Hawaii National Guard says they will resume tomorrow.
“They are going to brief the pilots in the morning of exactly what happened, and give them the details… and just make sure everything is done right,” said Maj. Hickman.
The cause of the incident is currently under investigation.
Witnesses who have information about the incident or photo/video documentation can call the Hawaii National Guard at (808) 441-7000.
Flights departing from Daniel K. Inouye International Airport were temporarily held as a precaution.
Operations have since resumed, however travelers are encouraged to check their flight status with their airline.