Jet crash in Virginia Beach fiery, not deadly

ZINIE CHEN SAMPSON Associated Press Published:

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (AP) -- Two Navy pilots zooming along at 170 mph in their fighter jet faced nothing but bad choices when their plane malfunctioned over populous Virginia Beach.

Somehow, however, the student pilot and his instructor and everyone on the ground survived Friday.

The men ejected moments before their jet crashed in a fireball in an apartment complex courtyard. The pilots and five on the ground were hurt, but all but one aviator were out of the hospital hours later.

Investigators were still trying to account for three residents late Friday and to determine what went wrong.

But military officials say the F18 Hornet had dumped loads of fuel before crashing. Experts say, though, without that dump, much of that fuel would have ignited into a massive fireball.