BEAUFORT, SC (WCSC) - BEAUFORT, SC (WCSC/WTOC) - Military authorities say two Marine aviators aboard a flaming F/A-18D reacted quickly enough to slow their jet so they could safely eject over the Atlantic Ocean.
Officials say pilot Major Duane Litpak and weapons officer Captain Jonathan Hutchison made it home safe Wednesday night after being plucked from a survival raft by a Coast Guard helicopter.
Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort reports the marine pilot and the weapons systems officer ejected safely and were recovered by a Coast Guard search and rescue unit from Charleston less than an hour later.
MCAS Beaufort says they were forced to eject following dual engine loss on the flight home after a routine training mission.
Their commander says both men had medical checkups and are back home with their families. MCAS Beaufort is conducting an investigation to determine what caused the crash.
A Marines spokesman says a Coast Guard cutter was patrolling the crash site late Wednesday to help locate and recover pieces of the plane.
The plane was on a training mission when the two engines on the $29 million jet failed.
The F-18 crashed 35 miles off of the coast of St. Helena Sound, SC around 5:15 p.m. Wednesday.