A D.C. Air National Guard pilot is being hailed a hero.
Captain Jonathan Morgan crash-landed an F-16C right outside the District about eight months ago. He survived and managed to save everyone else on the ground, too.
The 31-year-old pilot said he’s always had a love for flying. In an interview Monday, Captain Jonathan Morgan (yes, his name is Capt. Morgan) told WUSA9, he got his pilot’s license in 2009 and joined the military in 2014. He’s been flying F-16C fighter jets ever since.
But last April, a training mission took a sharp turn, forcing Morgan to jump out of his aircraft.
"As soon as I was about to pull the handle to eject, you don't know your fate. So, I said into my tapes, 'I love you Katie,' my wife. You just don't know you're going to make it out alive or not."
Morgan said the flight lasted only a matter of minutes.
"The flight was four minutes total from when my wheels were up all the way until jet crashed in the wood area, so we're talking seconds to realize what's going on,” Capt. Morgan said.
That means he had seconds to plan where the 20,000-pound, $22 million fighter jet would crash land. He did it right in between two Prince George's County neighborhoods.
Not one person died.
Capt. Morgan said he was on a training mission from Joint Base Andrews to Indiantown Gap, when the jet started to accelerate uncontrollably. His engine stopped. Then, as he was turning back, he heard more terrifying news.
“That's when I'm told that I have a giant fire coming out of the back of my engine."
He wasn't going to make it back to Joint Base Andrews.
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The D.C. Air National Guard pilot said his training kicked in, along with some prayer.
"I actually landed in the field that I intended to put the jet in. The jet just landed just to the left a bit in a wooded area. Thank God,” he said.
On Sunday, Morgan received two awards for his quick and crucial heroic actions. His superiors at the 113th Wing of the D.C. Air National Guard awarded him with the Brigadier General Howard W. Kacy Flying Safety Award. He also was surprised with a Meritorious Service Medal.
Morgan still insisted on recognizing the crew on base and other pilots in the sky.
"I do want to make an emphasis that this is 100 percent a team effort,” he told WUSA9. "I had three other very experienced pilots airborne with me in different fighter jets -- in F16s but in their own F16. And then the community outreach, from when I landed all the way to the hospital, and the egress shop with the seat working, the air-flight equipment shop, with the parachute opening up, this was a complete team effort."
The humble hero said he got back in the air within three weeks of the crash. He's a member of the Capital Guardians, the group that--at any given notice--is ready to launch and defend the nation's capital.