In a public relations effort gone awry, a newspaper editor who had criticized National Guard flyovers as dangerous was invited along on a flight exercise - and nearly was killed in a crash that destroyed two jets.

The two A-7 fighter jets of the South Dakota Air National Guard collided over northwestern Iowa on Wednesday, raining debris on a soybean field.Both pilots and Ward Bushee, executive editor of the Sioux Falls (S.D.) Argus Leader, ejected. The pilots were uninjured, but Bushee was taken by ambulance 70 miles to a Sioux Falls hospital, where he was in fair condition.

Bushee, 41, had written an editorial in August criticizing ceremonial flyovers as noisy and dangerous. "Flyovers pose a risk for neighborhoods," he wrote. "What if the jet crashed?"

The piece apparently led to an invitation to an "orientation flight," which the Air Guard offers "to show civic leaders and community personnel what our mission is and why there is an Air Guard," said Lt. Ruth Christopherson.

"We've had no problems until this," she said.

Bushee, 41, suffered a broken vertebra in his neck, cuts and burns, but said he felt lucky to be alive.

"I've always been kind of scared of flying. I don't like to fly that much. I think I will fly commercial, but I don't think I'll fly in an A-7 soon," Bushee said. "It's incredible we survived it."

The pilots, Maj. Gregory Gore of Collierville, Tenn., and Maj. Duncan Keirnes of Sioux Falls, were treated at a hospital in Spencer and released, Christopherson said.