Swiss recover 2 bodies in fighter jet crash


GENEVA  — Authorities recovered two bodies today from the site of a fighter jet crash in central Switzerland and identified the victims as a Swiss Air Force pilot and a doctor who went along on the training flight.

The Federal Department of Defense said in a statement that the pair had died in the crash near Alpnach in the Lake Lucerne region, and that the flight data recorder from the two-seater F/A-18 fighter jet had been recovered along with their bodies.

Officials did not name the dead, but said one was a career Air Force pilot, while the other was a doctor at the government’s Swiss Aeromedical Institute near Zurich. The institute examines and tests the fitness of pilots, air traffic controllers and others in the aviation field.

Analyzing the data recorder, or so-called black box, could take anywhere from a few days to several weeks, depending on its condition, the defense department said. It had been difficult to access the scene after the jet crashed into a cliff Wednesday afternoon in poor weather.

The jet took off from Meiringen air base in Bern canton (state) to practice air policing and aerial combat along with a one-seater F/A-18, whose pilot returned safely to the base after the two-seater crashed.

It is the second crash in 15 years involving one of the 34 American F/A-18s that the Swiss purchased in the late 1990s to form the backbone of their country’s air power. Two died and several others were injured in the first crash in 1998.