2nd Marine Aircraft Wing

Breaking News: Marine fighter plane crashes in Beaufort County


Both pilots eject from F/A-18D Hornet safely

By Mike McCombs

A U.S. Marine Corps F/A-18D Hornet crashed at approximately 3:15 p.m. Thursday, March 3 on Halfmoon Island while conducting a routine flight in Beaufort, the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing (MAW) Communications Strategy and Operations Office confirmed in an email.

The Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office was in contact with the pilot and co-pilot; both are safe. The 2nd MAW email said both Marines ejected safely with no injuries and were in stable condition.

The aircraft crashed in an unpopulated area near MCAS Beaufort, according to the Marines, and there was no damage to civilian property. Halfmoon Island is located in northern Beaufort County near the communities of Lobeco, Dale and Seabrook.

Lacy Jefferson, Jr., who works for Beaufort County General Support, was at the Beaufort County Public Works facility on Shanklin Road when he saw the plane flying in the distance in the direction of MCAS Beaufort with an engine that appeared to be in flames.

“It was crazy man,” Jefferson said. “I’m just glad that both (of the pilots) are all right.”

The aircraft is assigned to Marine All-Weather Fighter Attack Squadron 533 (VMFA(AW)-533), Marine Aircraft Group 31, 2nd MAW.

A safety investigation will be conducted to determine the cause of the crash.

MCAS Beaufort advised Thursday afternoon that for public safety, people should avoid the area, and local residents should remain indoors to the maximum extent possible as there was smoke from both the aircraft and a brushfire.

According to the U.S. Navy’s website, navy.mil, the F/A-18D Hornet, which entered into service in 1983, “remains the workhorse of Marine Corps tactical aviation and supports operational deployments around the globe. It will serve as the Marine Corps’ primary bridging platform to the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter until its planned sundown in 2030.”

This story will be updated as more information becomes available.

Mike McCombs is the editor of The Island News and can be reached at TheIslandNews@gmail.com.

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