A military training jet crashed short of a Hattiesburg airport Wednesday and the pilot managed to eject safely, authorities said. ``Reports from the area say the pilot is fine and the area is secured,'' said Lt. Col. Tim Powell of Jackson, a spokesman for the Mississippi National Guard.
Maj. Charles F. Toplikar of the Alabama Air National Guard's 187th Fighter Wing escaped the crash with only minor injuries, Powell said. Powell said training flights were being conducted around Camp Shelby, a large National Guard training facility south of Hattiesburg. The F-16 crash occurred about 2:40 p.m. at Bobby L. Chain Municipal Airport. ``The pilot had a flameout at about 22,000 feet,'' Powell said. ``When that happened he headed for Bobby Chain in south Hattiesburg. ``He was approaching short of the runway and he punched out and the plane crashed about 600 feet shy of the runway,'' Powell said.