10/26/05 — Jet piece lands in S.C. family's yard

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Jet piece lands in S.C. family's yard

By Turner Walston
Published in News on October 26, 2005 2:00 PM

A Bowman, S.C., family got a surprise Monday night when a 6-inch part from a Seymour Johnson Air Force Base F-15E Strike Eagle landed in their back yard.

The pylon ejector foot, which is used in the missile launching process, is believed to have come off one of the jets from the base during a routine training mission over central South Carolina, U.S. Air Force officials said.

Cindy Williams said her husband, Ed, was working in the yard when he heard something coming through the trees.

The object went through the Williams's carport, striking their Chevrolet Tahoe.

"The back window of my Tahoe just shattered," Mrs. Williams said. "It went pow. It was real loud."

The part then bounced off the ground, hitting a bedroom window before falling to the ground.

"It shattered my storm window right in the middle," Mrs. Williams added.

Mrs. Williams said she was inside her home with her daughter and grandchildren when the ejector foot fell. She heard the jets fly overhead.

"When they came by, they were real low," she said.

She said she was glad no one got hurt.

"The scary thing was, my daughter had just walked right beside the Tahoe to come in the house," she said.

Mrs. Williams said the ejector foot was about the size of a can of hairspray.

Air Force officials said the part does not contain explosive material, but technicians from the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division's bomb squad were called out as a precaution.

Air Force officials are still trying to determine what caused the part to fall off the jet.

Sgt. Angela Shepherd of 4th Fighter Wing Public Affairs said the jets were carrying AIM-9 practice missiles, but the pylon ejector foot fell from an empty bomb rack.

"There was no threat as far as anything they had loaded," she said.

Used for training, the route over Bowman is a 5-mile wide corridor, and jets fly at altitudes of 500 to 8,000 feet within the route, Sgt. Shepherd said.

"That's the allowable altitude for that area," she said.

A claims team has been sent to the accident site, and the Williams family will be compensated for damage caused by the pylon ejector foot, Sgt. Shepherd said. There were no injuries.

No flights have been suspended at Seymour Johnson since the accident, she added.

-- The Associated Press contributed to this report.