Military plane crashes south of Phoenix

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By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman

PHOENIX -- A military plane crashed south of Phoenix Friday afternoon, according to a spokesman for the FAA.

The U.S. Marine Corps said the AV-8B Harrier crashed on the Gila River Indian Community near the city of Maricopa about 2 p.m.

The Marine pilot ejected safely but suffered a cut on his nose, according to a spokesman for the Gila River Indian Community. The pilot was taken to Chandler Regional Medical Center after Gila River police found him walking in the desert.

Gila River police closed off the area.

"We've secured a mile to a mile and a half radius of the crash scene to ensure that no public, no community members are near the scene for safety purposes," police spokesman Det. Robert Hawkes said.

Chopper 3 spotted what appeared to be a missile among the debris but that has not been confirmed.

The Marine Corps confirmed the crashed jet is out of Yuma, Ariz.

The Harrier is a subsonic attack and reconnaissance plane. It resembles traditional fighter jets like the F-16 but has the unique ability to take off and land vertically, earning the nickname "jumper jet."

The military has not said why the $30 million war plane went down, but the planes do have a mixed safety record with pilots saying it can be a difficult aircraft to fly.

Military jet crashes in Arizona desert; pilot OK

PHOENIX (AP) -- A Marine Corps Harrier jet crashed on tribal land south of Phoenix on Friday, but authorities said the pilot was able to eject safely.

Television footage showed the charred wreckage scattered in several pieces in a remote desert area on the Gila River Indian Community.

Parts of the plane still were smoldering an hour after the crash, which occurred about 2:30 p.m. MST.

Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Ian Gregor said the wreckage was near the Sacaton Rest Area, about 40 miles southeast of Phoenix.

The AV-8B Harrier was based out of Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, but base officials referred all calls to the Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in California.

Miramar officials released a statement Friday night stating that an investigation will be conducted to determine the cause of the crash.

A tweet posted on Miramar's website read: "Thankfully the pilot is safe and doing well."

A spokesman for the Gila River Indian Community said the pilot was the only person aboard and suffered only a nose laceration.

The pilot, whose name wasn't released, was taken to a hospital for observation.

Tribal police Detective Robert Hawkes said the crash scene was secured for more than a mile "so any evidence is kept intact." He said the cause of the crash was not yet known.

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