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Search teams were scouring South Carolina marshlands for the bodies of two people killed when their small plane collided in midair Tuesday with an Air Force fighter jet, officials said.

The F-16 Fighting Falcon collided with the civilian Cessna C150 just after 11 a.m. ET, about 11 miles north of Charleston, sending debris raining down on land and water. Officials at the Shaw Air Force Base, east of Columbia, said the pilot was headed toward Charleston as part of a routine instrument training when the rare accident occurred.

The pilot — Maj. Aaron Johnson of the 55th Fighter Squadron — ejected from the jet and survived. He was recovered by workers near the Medway Plantation in rural Berkeley County, and was taken to Joint Base Charleston for observation, said Col. Stephen Jost, commander of the 20th Fighter Wing at Shaw.

A very light jet ( VLJ ), entry-level jet or personal jet , [1] previously known as a microjet , is a category of small business jets seating four to eight people and often with a maximum takeoff weight of or under 10,000 pounds (4,540 kg), [2] [3] [4] although the Embraer Phenom 100 , HondaJet and Cessna Citation M2 are all slightly over. VLJs are considered the lightest business jets and are approved for single-pilot operation.

Single-engine designs were popular in the mid-2000s, before the global financial crisis diminished the market appeal of the category. Most of those programs: the Piper Altaire , Diamond D-Jet , Eclipse 400 or VisionAire Vantage were shelved and the only maintained aircraft are the Cirrus Vision SF50 , which is now type certified , and the Stratos 714 , which expects certification in 2019. They would compete with single turboprop aircraft. [5]

VLJs are intended to have lower operating costs than conventional jets, and to be able to operate from runways as short as 3,000 feet (910 m), either for personal use or in point-to-point air taxi service. [6] [7] In the United States , the Small Aircraft Transportation System is aimed at providing air service to areas ignored by airlines .