HOUSTON, June 21 (Xinhua) -- A pilot was forced to eject from a burning F-16 during takeoff at Houston's Ellington Airport on Wednesday.

According to a statement from North American Aerospace Defense Command, the pilot safely ejected and was taken to a local hospital. Information from the hospital said he is in a stable condition.

Local media reported that the jet and its pilot were on a training mission as part of the Noble Eagle air defense program that began after the 9/11 terror attacks on the United States. A series of explosions were heard and smoke rose into the air when the fighter jet was taking off.

A spokesman for the Texas Air National Guard 147th Reconnaissance Wing said the jet had ammunition on board at the time of the crash.

An investigation is underway to determine the cause of the crash.