Pilot rescued from sea after F-16 crash off Korea
September 11, 2003
A U.S. Air Force F-16 pilot ejected safely and was plucked from the water by a South Korean air force helicopter after crashing at sea off Korea’s west coast Tuesday.
The pilot, Capt. Kevin Dydyk of the 35th Fighter Squadron at Kunsan Air Base, was reported in good condition at the Kunsan medical clinic after his F-16C Fighting Falcon went down about 56.5 miles southwest of the base around 10:05 a.m., said 1st Lt. Herb McConnell, a base spokesman.
“He looks like he’s doing just fine, with minimal injuries,” McConnell said Tuesday afternoon. “The pilot safely ejected and was recovered by a Republic of Korea air force HH-47 ... helicopter from Chong-ju Air Base.”
Lt. Col. Han Sang-kyun, a South Korean air force spokesman, confirmed the helicopter was dispatched from South Korea Combat Control Headquarters after being notified of the crash.
Dydyk was in the water for approximately one hour before the rescue, McConnell said. The water temperature was about 75 degrees. He arrived at the base around noon Tuesday and was taken to the 8th Medical Group clinic.
The pilot was on a routine training flight with another aircraft at the time of the incident, McConnell said. “He did have a wing man.”
The plane was “lost” in the ocean depths, he said. The Air Force is working to recover floating debris from the crash scene.
“The cause of the accident is unknown at this time,” McConnell said. “However, a board of qualified officers will investigate” and will provide additional details “as soon as they become available to us.”
It was the second American F-16 to crash in South Korea this year.
On May 29, an F-16 crashed just after takeoff at Osan Air Base. The pilot escaped injury.
Choe Song-won contributed to this report.
Recent U.S. military air crashes
YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea — In the past 13 months, at least six U.S. Army or Air Force aircraft stationed in South Korea have gone down. Here’s a recap:
Sept. 9: A 35th Fighter Squadron F-16C crashed into the Yellow Sea while on a training mission. A South Korean air force team rescued the pilot, who was reported in good condition.
Aug. 12: Two Army pilots were killed when their C-12 Huron crashed in an onion field about seven miles southwest of Camp Humphreys. Pilots Capt. Kevin M. Norman and Chief Warrant Officer David W. Snow were called heroes for apparently steering the crippled aircraft away from a populated area.
Aug. 7: An Army Black Hawk helicopter crash-landed in Hoecheon River near Taegu after clipping a utility line. The four 377th Air Ambulance Company crew members were not injured.
May 29: A 36th Fighter Squadron F-16 fighter crashed moments after takeoff from Osan Air Base. The pilot ejected safely. Falling aircraft debris slightly injured an Army and Air Force Exchange Service employee.
Jan. 26: An Osan-based U-2 Dragonlady crashed in a rural area, injuring four civilians on the ground. The pilot ejected safely before the 5th Reconnaissance Squadron spy plane crashed.
Aug. 22, 2002: An AH-64A Apache helicopter crashed on a hillside south of Camp Page, killing both crew members. Officials said 1st Lt. Dustin Shannon and Chief Warrant Officer James Wallenburg were on a low-altitude, night-training mission when controllers lost contact with the Apache in the early-morning hours.
— From staff reports