By Josh Cradduck and Phil Helsel - NBC News
"I guess we have a pilot in our house, and he says he was ejected." This was the call that the emergency 911 phone received in Charleston County, South Carolina, after the pilot of an F-35B Lightning II military plane was fired from the fighter on Sunday and parachuted into the yard of a house, according to an audio released by county authorities.
The wreckage of the crashed plane was located on Monday after hours of uncertainty about its fate, during which the Pentagon even asked for citizen help to locate it.
[How it was possible for the U.S. to lose track of a sophisticated F-35 fighter jet valued at $140 million]
On the 911 call, the operator seems surprised at first by what the person on the phone says: "Excuse me, what happened?"
"We have a pilot in the house," the caller replies, "I guess he landed in my backyard and we want to see if we can [call] the house for an ambulance please."
Search for an F-35 fighter plane missing after mishap in the air
Sept. 18, 202300:19
The pilot joins the call shortly afterwards and explains that he is 47 years old, ejected at about 2,000 feet after a "plane failure", and suffers some pain in his back.
"We have a military jet crash. I'm the pilot. We need to get the rescue going. I'm not sure where the plane is," he told the operator. "It must have crashed somewhere. I ejected."
The pilot also asked if any plane crashes had been reported in the area.
Later that day, Joint Base Charleston and Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort appealed to the public on social media for help in locating the missing plane.
Search teams found debris hours later from a crashed plane in Williamsburg County, two hours northeast of Joint Base Charleston, they said Monday afternoon.
Witnesses said the plane was flying "inverted" before crashing.