LUKE AIR FORCE BASE, AZ - An F-16 fighter jet crashed near Luke Air Force Base in suburban Phoenix on Wednesday evening, but both pilots ejected safely, authorities said.
The jet went down just before 7 p.m. in a desert area about 3 miles west of the airfield, said officials at the base.
Both pilots suffered minor injuries, Sgt. Linda Rainey said. Their names weren't immediately released.
One pilot was an instructor, the other was a student. They were practicing takeoffs and landings when the F-16 suffered a malfunction. What type of malfunction is unknown at this time.
Glendale Fire Department officials said the two pilots were seen walking around after the crash and were taken to Luke Air Force Base Hospital for further evaluation.
Witnesses said they heard the jet's engine sputtering and popping just before the plane went down. Video from a TV helicopter showed plumes of smoke rising from the crash scene.
Luke Air Force Base, about 15 miles west of Phoenix, is the world's largest F-16 training base.
In March 1999, the Air Force temporarily suspended all F-16 fighter flights at Luke after one of the jets crashed in the desert. At the time, it was the fifth such accident at Luke since October 1998.
As of late Wednesday night, all flight operations at the base have been suspended per protocol.
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