Mystery in the Skies: Pilot Ejects, F-35 Vanishes on Autopilot Over North Charleston


In a bewildering series of events, a U.S. F-35 stealth fighter jet, estimated to be worth $80 million, vanished over the skies of North Charleston, South Carolina. Adding to the intrigue, the pilot ejected successfully, leaving the advanced aircraft to continue its flight autonomously via its autopilot systems.

Key Events

September 17, 2023: The air mishap transpires, resulting in the pilot’s successful ejection from the F-35.
• Following Ejection: The jet is spotted soaring autonomously over North Charleston.
• Immediate Action: A combined effort from Joint Facility Charleston and Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort is initiated to locate and secure the aircraft.

The Incident

The incident unfolded around 2:00 PM local time north of Joint-Base Charleston. The pilot parachuted safely into a Charleston neighborhood and is reported to be in stable condition. The search for the missing aircraft is focused on Lake Moultrie and Lake Marion, as confirmed by Senior Master Sergeant Heather Stanton from Joint Base Charleston. Astonishingly, the Department of Defense has stated that the aircraft was set to autopilot before the pilot ejected.

Historical Precedence

While it might sound unbelievable, there are historical instances of unmanned fighter jets continuing to fly after the pilot has ejected. The most famous case is the “Cornfield Bomber,” an F-106 that landed intact in a cornfield in 1970 after its pilot ejected. More recently, in 1988, a MiG-23 flew from Poland to Belgium without its pilot, who had ejected shortly after takeoff.

The Search

Given the aircraft’s advanced capabilities and potential range, it could have traveled hundreds of miles on autopilot before possibly running out of fuel. The fact that there have been no reported crash sightings suggests that the jet might have gone down in a sparsely populated area. If it ran out of fuel, it’s unlikely that there would be a significant fire or loud crash, making its discovery even more challenging.

Avionics and Stealth Capabilities

While F-35s usually wear radar reflectors during transit flights, their full stealth configuration and potential avionics issues could make locating the jet troublesome. Marine Corps F-35s are also often equipped with missile rails for AIM-9Xs, adding another layer of complexity to the search.

Public Call to Action

In a rare step, military authorities have reached out to the public for assistance in this frantic search for the missing F-35. Individuals with pertinent information are strongly urged to contact the Base Defense Operations Center at the following number: 843-963-3600.

Significance and Impact

The extraordinary nature of this incident has spurred questions about the robustness and reliability of the autopilot systems in modern fighter jets, especially the F-35 series. The probe into this baffling event is ongoing, focusing on understanding the specific conditions that led to such an unprecedented scenario.

Final Thoughts

As the military and local authorities escalate their efforts to locate the missing jet, this unique incident stands to significantly impact discussions surrounding the safety, autonomy, and public engagement in issues of national security and advanced military technology.

We will keep you updated as this story unfolds.

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