Search widens for missing pilot off U.S. coast

/ Source: The Associated Press

Aircraft and ships continue to search the Atlantic Ocean off the South Carolina coast for an F-16 fighter pilot whose jet collided with another aircraft during night training exercises.

Coast Guard Petty Officer Bobby Nash said Saturday the search for Capt. Nicholas Giglio has expanded to about 4,000 square miles. Coast Guard units from four states are involved.

Authorities said there were reports of an oil slick and debris after the crash, but no signals were received from emergency beacons on the plane or pilot.

The pilot of the other jet was able to land his damaged plane after the Thursday night collision. He was not injured and has returned to Shaw Air Force Base in Sumter.

The planes collided Thursday around 8:30 p.m. about 40 miles off the South Carolina coast, said Senior Master Sgt. Brad Fallin at Shaw Air Force Base. Both jets, based at the Shaw, are single-seat aircraft.

The jet piloted by Capt. Lee Bryant landed safely at Charleston Air Force Base, Fallin said. Bryant was examined at the base but suffered no injuries and was released.

The water temperatures in the crash area were about 75 degrees and most people could survive 24 hours, he said.

The pilots’ hometowns and ages were not immediately available.

Earlier this week, Shaw Air Force Base announced that pilots would be conducting nighttime exercises to allow pilots to fly with night vision equipment and practice tactics critical to surviving in combat.

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