NORTH LAS VEGAS, Nev. — A veteran pilot has been released from the hospital after he was hurt when a fighter jet went down after completing an exercise with a military weapons school at an Air Force base near Las Vegas, officials say.
The pilot had just finished a combat training exercise when he self-ejected Thursday as he was returning to Nellis Air Force Base, Draken International's Scott Poteet said. The exercise typically lasts about an hour and a half.
By Thursday afternoon, the pilot had already been treated for minor injuries and released from the hospital. The company declined to identify him but said he is not from the Las Vegas area.
The man who has more than two decades of fighter pilot experience was alone in an A-4 Skyhawk jet opposite Nellis' weapons school trainees. The fixed wing single-engine aircraft was built in 1970. This fighter jet model was used by the military in the Vietnam era as a sub-sonic fighter-bomber aircraft with a top speed of more than 670 miles per hour.
A base spokesman said the crash involving the civilian contractor aircraft happened about 7:40 a.m. Thursday on public land adjacent to the base.
Draken is based in Lakeland, Florida. Draken pilots are civilian contractors who role-play with the trainees by pretending to be enemy pilots. Poteet said the six-month weapons school is akin to "getting your Ph.D in flying," with a focus on honing combat skills.
The jet in Thursday's crash was a two-seater and had no ammunition on board. Nothing was hit on the ground and no one else was injured. There have been no reports of damage to any facilities.
The other aircraft involved in the training landed safely.
The 57th Wing manages all flying operations at Nellis, about 15 miles northeast of downtown Las Vegas.
The wing supports the Air Force warfare test-and-evaluation activities, runs a graduate-level U.S. Air Force weapons school and serves as home to the Thunderbirds air demonstration team. Since 1975, the base has hosted periodic "red flag" and "green flag" training exercises involving military air units from U.S. allies in mock battles over the vast Nevada Test and Training Range.
Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Ian Gregor says the agency was notified that a military aircraft was involved in the crash.
National Transportation Safety Board spokesman Keith Holloway said he had no immediate information about his agency's involvement.
Associated Press writer Ken Ritter in Las Vegas contributed to this report.