There were many witnesses across the bay on Shelter Island.
Leslie Wiese told 10News, "There was a big bang like a canon went off."
Dianne Winenger heard it and turned to her husband, Ray, "and I said, 'What was that?' He said it sounds like metal hitting metal."
Chuck Olson said he "heard the boom; the explosion of the ejection seat where the pilot came out."
Kent Whitaker had a colorful description, "The guy flew out of the water like on one of those jet-packs they have."
Ray Winenger told us his wife “looked up and said there's a parachute."
Frances Crego was with her daughter on a park slide as they watched. "We followed him over the water; it was a big orange parachute."
Mike Higgins "saw a bunch of smoke, saw the splash."
The serviceman, whose name was not released, was taken to a hospital for a precautionary evaluation. By early evening, he had been examined and released, according to the Navy.
At the time of the accident, the pilot was on a routine training mission to prepare for aircraft carrier landing qualifications. The two-seat Boeing/BAE Systems aircraft he was flying is assigned to Training Squadron 9, based in Meridian, Mississippi.
A crane crew was called in to remove the jet from the harbor, officials said.