HILL AIR FORCE BASE -- Flying operations have been suspended at Hill Air Force Base until further notice following an F-16 crash at the Utah Test and Training Range on Friday.
The pilot, who is a captain, ejected safely but was taken to a local hospital by helicopter, which is standard procedure, said Col. Scott Long, commander of the 388th Fighter Wing.
"We are very blessed today that the pilot is OK," Long said. "He walked to the helicopter and he's fine."
Long was joined by Col. Sarah Zabel, commander of the 75th Air Base Wing, and Col. Pat Wade, vice commander of the 419th Fighter Wing, at a news conference just outside the south gate of the base on Friday.
The crash occurred at 8:35 a.m. Friday in the north part of the UTTR, between 50 and 60 miles west of the Great Salt Lake, Long said.
Zabel said ATVs will be used to get to the area where the crash occurred, which is mostly flat terrain.
Long said the pilot, whose name was not released, "is an excellent pilot. Top of his line, very experienced, Instructor pilot."
The results of the investigation will be released to the public in 60 days to 90 days, Long said.
The crash occurred during training that began on Tuesday. Friday morning's session was a "close air support mission," Long said. The pilots were working with the ground forces to "help the battle situation on the ground."
This week's training began early each morning and did not finish until almost midnight. It was done in rounds of five, with 14 jets in three rounds, followed by a round of 12 jets and the last round of 10 jets.
"The exercise tested our ability to execute our wartime mission," Long said.
The average age of the F-16's in the 388th Fighter Wing is 22 years and cost more than $25 million each, Long said.
"Aging aircraft is always an issue, but I will tell you that our maintainers are the best in the world and we have full confidence in them," Long said. "I would go get an F-16 right now and go to the range. There is no confidence issue. The jets are old, but also very reliable."
The Air Force is phasing out the F-16 and replacing them with the F-35.
The last crash involving an F-16 from Hill Air Force Base occurred in June 2009. The pilot, Capt. George Bryan Houghton, 28, originally from Candler, N.C., was killed. Pilot error was ruled the cause of the crash.