The FAA has reported that a 1959 Hawker Hunter Mk 58 jet fighter experienced an engine failure and crashed into the Atlantic Ocean yesterday (June 20) about 40 miles southeast of Wilmington International Airport in North Carolina. The pilot of the single-seater was rescued by the U.S. Coast Guard, though it remains unclear whether the pilot ejected or ditched.
According to FAA records, the aircraft was operated by adversary air training provider Airborne Tactical Advantage Co. (ATAC) under lease from Hunter Aviation International, listed as a Delaware corporation. According to Wikipedia, Williamsburg, Virginia-based ATAC has operated 14 former Swiss air force Hunters, though three had been three lost to previous accidents.
Online news provider The Drive reported that news of the accident first surfaced on social media late Monday and that flight tracking data suggested the Hunter was participating in U.S. Navy Composite Unit Training Exercises involving the supercarrier USS George H.W. Bush’s strike group. The exercise protocol is typically the final workup phase for the strike group before a deployment.
The Drive further reported that flight tracking later showed a second ATAC Hunter with a similar tail number circling the area of the crash.