UPDATE: Unmanned drone crashes in Gulf

Published: Wednesday, July 10, 2013 at 03:14 PM.

PORT ST. JOE — A drone aircraft out of Tyndall Air Force Base had to be destroyed, causing it to plunge into the Gulf of Mexico near St. Joseph Peninsula State Park on Wednesday morning, the Gulf County Sheriff’s Office said.

GCSO Lt. Paul Beasley said a 911 dispatcher received a call about 10:30 a.m. that a flaming object had plunged into the water just off shore.

“They saw a big flash of fire that landed in the Gulf,” Beasley said.

Tyndall officials said an unmanned Air Force QF-4 drone assigned to the 53rd Weapons Evaluation Group was destroyed over the Gulf of Mexico at 10:28 a.m.

Herman Bell, chief of Tyndall’s 325th Fighter Wing public affairs, said when a drone goes “haywire” the controllers will destroy the craft.

“We blew it,” Bell said. “If it goes outside of it’s safety parameters then we take it down.”

The drone was carrying a small self-destruct charge and had to be destroyed for safety considerations during its return to base following a routine operation, Air Force officials said.

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