LOUISVILLE, Ga. -- Searchers combing Jefferson County in recent weeks have found much of the wreckage of the two F-16 fighter jets that crashed last month.
Two larger objects, however, have eluded them -- a pilot’s ejection seat and a windshield canopy.
“Keep in mind that these items may be disfigured from the crash,” an Air Force spokesman said. “If you find anything you believe may be aircraft wreckage, please call 911 and relay the description and location of the items.”
For almost a month Jefferson County EMA Director Jim Anderson worked with the Air Force, Army and other officials who set up command centers in the county to investigate the crash and collect the debris from the two jets. At its peak there were 189 military personnel on location in one day, Anderson said.
He said he was not sure if the missing seat and canopy are from the same plane or not.
“It is believed that it has possibly been moved,” Anderson said. “There was some other debris found that could indicate that these items were in the area. But we did a saturation search and could not find them.”
Anyone who is caught with the seat or canopy in their possession could face charges including theft of government property.
“At this time, if someone has it and they turn it in voluntarily then there are no charges. They get amnesty,” Anderson said. “If the office of special investigation of the Air Force does an investigation and finds somebody that’s got it, amnesty is off the table. They can call into 911 anonymously and tell me where it’s sitting. They can call my cell phone anonymously.”
Anderson said the biggest thing with the ejection seat is that it potentially still has some explosives on it. “The canopy they’d like to get back because it is high dollar. The ejection seat, that’s a safety issue,” Anderson said.
He is still in contact with the Air Force a couple of times a week, he said, and he expects that it might be six months or more before the investigation is completed.
“Once they release their preliminary findings there will be much more than to report,” Anderson said. “I guess the biggest thing to come out of all of this is the cooperation of the community, the county, the interactions between the military and the public were great. All the citizens were very supportive,” he said.