BY: MEREDITH DELISO, ABC NEWS
(NEW YORK) — Two pilots are dead after a military jet crashed near an Alabama airport Friday evening, officials said.
The aircraft landed in a wooded area near the Montgomery Regional Airport, according to airport executive director Marshall Taggart.
The T-38 trainer aircraft was assigned to the 14th Flying Training Wing, based out of Columbus Air Force Base in Mississippi, the Air Force said in a statement.
The airport was notified of the crash shortly after 5 p.m. local time.
Airport officials did not know what caused the fatal accident.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the two pilots involved in this incident,” said Col. Seth Graham, the 14th Flying Training Wing commander, in a statement Friday night. “There are no words that can describe the sadness that accompanies the loss of our teammates.”
A student and U.S. Air Force instructor pilot died in the crash, Graham said during a press briefing Saturday. They were participating in a routine off-station training mission.
“Every weekend we send as part of our syllabus for students to do what we call a cross-country training mission, where they fly away from Columbus around the area to get training at other airfields,” Graham said.
The pilots were on the first leg of a two-leg mission, said Graham, who did not know their ultimate destination.
The base is temporarily suspending those types of off-station missions, Graham said.
The names of the pilots are currently being withheld, pending next of kin notifications.
A safety investigation board will be investigating, the Air Force said.
ABC News’ Jamie Aranoff and Luis Martinez contributed to this report.
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