A National Guard F-16 hit a pair of wild pigs in a landing attempt, forcing the pilot to eject and destroying the jet, officials said.
"It's a very inglorious way for a $16 million aircraft to come to an end," said Lt. Col. Sam Carter, who was bruised but otherwise unhurt when his plane struck a pig and a piglet Tuesday night.The jet veered into a ditch and crashed into a stand of pine trees at the Jacksonville International Airport.
Carter, a veteran pilot with 9 1/2 years in the Air Force and 15 years with the Air National Guard, said Wednesday that he has heard his fill of oinker jokes, including his wife's offer to let him pig out at a pork dinner.
Carter, 46, of Orange Park, said he was returning from a training mission over the Atlantic. He said he touched down and saw a "brown blur," then felt a thump at 160 mph. He ejected for the first time in his career.
Investigators found pig remains on the runway.
"He (arter) made a quick and timely decision to eject," said Col. Don Garrett, a Florida Air National Guard commander. "You never know when you're leaving a prepared surface, if the plane could turn upside down. When it started heading for the trees, he decided to eject."
Airport officials said they would check for breaks in the airfield fence, designed to keep wildlife from nearby woods and swamps off runways. Wild pigs are common in Florida.