Joint Base Charleston, an air base located in North Charleston, said it was working alongside Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort to "locate an F-35 that was involved in a mishap" that took place Sunday (September 17) afternoon in a post shared on its X account. The pilot was reported to have "ejected safely and was transferred to a local medical center in stable condition," Joint Base Charleston confirmed in a post shared on its Facebook account Sunday afternoon.
Jeremy Huggins, a spokesman for Joint Base Charleston, told NBC News that the plane could still be airborne as the pilot had left it in autopilot when they ejected themselves from the aircraft.
Searchers were reported to be focusing on areas around Lake Moultrie and Lake Marion, located north of Joint Base Charleston, based on the plane's last-known position and coordination with the Federal Aviation Administration. Huggins said he couldn't elaborate when asked if that meant the plane was suspected to have crashed, instead saying that more information would be forthcoming.
Additionally, the pilot's reasoning for ejecting from the aircraft was not made clear publicly as of Monday (September 18) morning. The jet's transponder, which is typically used to locate the plane, wasn't working “for some reason that we haven’t yet determined,” Huggins said via the Washington Post, though specifying that he was unable to confirm the detail on Monday.