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2 Marine Pilots Eject Before Crash of Jet in Laguna Hills

March 16, 1986

Two Marine pilots ejected from a single-engine jet and parachuted to safety Saturday afternoon, moments before the surveillance plane crashed onto a hillside in Laguna Hills.

Authorities said the pilots, who apparently experienced engine trouble on their approach to the El Toro Marine Corps air station, drifted to the ground about 500 feet from the burning wreckage of the AO-4 Skyhawk and walked to a military Search and Rescue helicopter.

They were airlifted to the base, about five miles north of the crash, and treated there for what a spokeswoman said were minor injuries.

The officers, who were returning from a routine training flight, were identified by military spokespersons as Maj. Thomas E. Chaffin and Maj. Benjamin L. Williams.

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