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Missing F-16 pilot's crash debris found in ocean

by Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

10/16/2009 - WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- Coast Guard searchers found crash debris Oct. 16 in the Atlantic Ocean believed to belong to a missing Air Force pilot's F-16 Fighting Falcon that collided Oct. 15 with another F-16 near the South Carolina coast during a night-training exercise, said an Air Force spokesman.

"The Coast Guard has found some debris in the ocean that is apparently from our missing F-16," said Robert Sexton, the Shaw Air Force Base Public Affairs chief in Sumter, S.C.

Shaw AFB is the home of the 20th Fighter Wing, to which the jet belong.

The two F-16s collided about 40 miles east of Folly Beach, S.C., over the Atlantic Ocean around 8:30 p.m. Oct. 15, according to an Air Force news release. The pilot of one plane, Capt. Lee Bryant, was able to safely land his damaged jet at Charleston AFB, S.C.

The other pilot, Capt. Nicholas Giglio, is missing.

"They have not yet found any sign of the pilot and the search continues," Mr. Sexton said. No one witnessed what happened to Captain Giglio after the collision.

The incident, he said, occurred during a routine night-training mission.

Foul weather, including rain and fog, hindered the Coast Guard's search for Captain Giglio, Mr. Sexton said.

"The Coast Guard is doing an absolutely incredible job of running the search and rescue mission," he said. "We're just tremendously grateful for the assistance of the Coast Guard, the Navy, Charleston Air Force Base (and) all of the other agencies that are participating in the search and rescue."

The F-16s are "CJ" models optimized for suppression of enemy air defenses, Mr. Sexton said.

A board of officers will investigate the incident and details will be released as they become available.

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