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SC Air National Guard F-16 fighter pilots collide over Georgia, eject safely

By Susanne M. Schafer, The Associated Press

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Two South Carolina Air National Guard F-16 fighter pilots ejected safely after a midair collision overnight in eastern Georgia, the Guard said.

The collision happened Tuesday night around 9:15 p.m. during routine night-flying operations over a military operating area in Jefferson County, Georgia, the Air National Guard said in a news release.

The jets were assigned to the South Carolina Air National Guard's 169th Fighter Wing, which operates out of McEntire Joint National Guard Base in Eastover, South Carolina.

The two male pilots were brought to a hospital, said 1st Lt. Stephen Hudson, a spokesman for the Guard.

"They were taken to a local hospital for observation," Hudson said. "Apparently there were no major injuries."

There were no immediate reports of injuries on the ground.

The pilots were conducting a training mission over Georgia airspace in an area known as the Townsend Range, Hudson said. The region is used by the South Carolina Air National Guard for such training.

Hudson said it appeared the two aircraft crashed in separate locations, apparently wooded areas.

"We are dealing with two crash sites," Hudson said, adding that officials from the South Carolina Air National Guard were traveling to the area Wednesday morning.

Local first responders were securing the area and providing emergency services, the Guard's news release said. The release also said the Air Force would conduct a safety investigation.

The collision comes after both of the military's precision flying teams suffered crashes last week.

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