By ROSE L. THAYER | STARS AND STRIPES
Two fighter jet crashes just days apart at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., have prompted the base commander to call for a safety pause at the base.
Brig. Gen. Scott Cain, commander of the 96th Test Wing, which is responsible for operations at the base located in the Florida Panhandle, posted a message to the base Facebook page Wednesday that announced the pause, which includes safety instruction for all Eglin personnel.
The order follows accidents that occurred in the last week involving two different aircraft from two different units.
An F-22 Raptor crashed Friday into a training range located about 12 miles northeast of the main base. An F-35A Lightning II crashed Tuesday while landing. The pilots involved in each crash were able to eject from their aircraft and have since been released from the hospital, Cain said.
Both accidents remain under investigation and no cause for either has been released.
The two crashes were part of routine training operations, according to news releases. The F-22 was part of the 325th Fighter Wing and the F-35A was part of the 58th Fighter Squadron. Neither resulted in loss of life or damage to civilian property.
Cain’s safety message to airmen also directed leaders at the base to spend Thursday speaking with service members about “how we will continue to operate safely as we return to flying operations after Memorial Day and also how we will maintain our resiliency through all of this.”
During the safety pause, Cain also asked for the 9,800 military and civilian personnel who report to the base to discuss how to remain safe throughout the long Memorial Day weekend.
“As challenging as today may seem, many great American heroes have given everything for the freedoms we cherish today, and we owe them our respect on this holiday,” he said.
Because of the precautions required by the coronavirus pandemic, the safety pause was virtual and included a briefing from the safety office to be used base-wide, Cain wrote in an additional post about the safety pause.
“Times of crisis are the true test of an individual’s character and they also demonstrate the strength of a team,” he said. “Team Eglin has certainly risen to the occasion in the last week.”