Pilot injured after military fighter jet crashes near Albuquerque International Airport

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A military fighter jet en route to an Air Force base in California crashed Tuesday near the international airport in New Mexico’s largest city, releasing a significant plume of smoke and injuring the pilot.

The pilot, the only person on board, was able to escape after crashing around 2 p.m. on a hill south of the Albuquerque airport and was taken to a hospital with serious injuries, according to firefighters from the city.

American manufacturer Lockheed Martin The downed plane was identified as an F-35 that had left Fort Worth, Texas, earlier Tuesday and was heading to Edwards Air Force Base near Los Angeles. A Lockheed spokesperson said in an email to The Associated Press that the fighter jet crashed after the pilot stopped to refuel at Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico.

None of the Air Force bases immediately responded to requests for additional information.

Located on the southern edge of Albuquerque, Kirtland is home to the 377th Air Base Wing, which conducts nuclear operations and trains and equips expeditionary forces. It also houses the Air Force Research Laboratory.

Patrick White, who was driving in the area at the time of the crash, told AP he saw the plane dragging low to the ground, kicking up a cloud of dirt and dust. He said the object briefly disappeared from his field of vision, then he saw “a huge plume of black smoke.”

When he drove past the crash, he said he saw a piece of the fighter jet in the middle of the road.

This is the second military plane crash in New Mexico in the past month. In April, an F-16 Fighting Falcon crashed in a remote area near Holloman Air Force Base in the southern state, leaving the pilot with minor injuries after being ejected from the plane.

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