Video: Pilot ejects moments before fighter jet crash

  1. Closed captioning of: Pilot ejects moments before fighter jet crash

    >>> the accident was caught on camera as the plane took a nose dive. luckily the pilot ejected and parachuted safely

msnbc.com staff and news service reports
updated 10/14/2011 8:55:37 AM ET 2011-10-14T12:55:37

A Chinese air force jet crashed at an air show Friday, leaving one of the pilots missing and presumed dead.

Footage aired by China Central Television showed the jet sputtering and then nose-diving into a field outside the northern city of Xi'an as one of the pilots ejected from the cockpit and landed beneath an open parachute.

Only one parachute was seen opening, and the plane burst into flames upon crashing.

The other pilot's seat appeared not to have ejected.

Trapped
The pilot who ejected suffered only minor injuries, but his comrade appeared to have been trapped in the doomed plane, the official Xinhua News Agency said, citing eyewitnesses and air show organizer, He Liang.

Image: A plume of smoke is seen after an aircraft crashed during an air show in China
Li Yibo  /  AP
A plume of smoke is seen after an aircraft crashed during an air show in China Friday, in this photo released by China's Xinhua News Agency.

"One pilot parachuted out of the plane and is alive, the search for another pilot is ongoing," the China International General Aviation Convention told the AFP news agency in a statement. "There were no casualties on the ground."

The plane crashed more than a mile from the nearest onlookers.

Xinhua said the plane was a two-seater JH-7 "Flying Leopard" fighter-bomber, but AFP cited a report that it was a Xiaolong or "Fierce Dragon" fighter jet.

AFP said U.S. aerobatic teams along with others from Hungary, Sweden, and Lithuania were invited to take part in the three-day show.

The crash is being investigated and it wasn't clear if mechanical problems or pilot error was to blame.

The plane is powered by two highly reliable license-built Spey Mk202 engines and it was considered unlikely that both would have stalled at the same time.

The Chinese-made JH-7 entered service in 2004 and is a mainstay of the country's air force and naval aviation, with more than 100 built.

At least one of the planes crashed previously — during a China-Russian joint exercise in 2009, killing both pilots.

China rarely released information about military accidents, but the public nature of the crash and the rapid spread of images of it happening on the Internet made it impossible to keep secret.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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