64°F
weather icon Partly Cloudy

Navy fighter jet crashes on west side of Death Valley

Updated August 6, 2019 - 5:18 pm

A Navy fighter jet crashed Wednesday at Death Valley National Park during training, killing the pilot and causing minor injuries to seven people on the ground.

The aircraft was on a routine training flight when the crash occurred north of Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake about 10 a.m. Wednesday, the Navy said. “The Navy has confirmed that the pilot of the FA-18E died in the crash. In accordance with DoD (Department of Defense) policy, the identity of the pilot will be withheld 24 hours,” the Navy said Thursday on Twitter. “The Navy mourns the loss of one of our own and our thoughts go out to the family and friends affected by this tragedy.”

An investigation is underway. The fighter jet was identified as an F/A-18E Super Hornet, a single-seat aircraft. It was from strike fighter squadron VFA-151, known as the Vigilantes, and based at Naval Air Station Lemoore in California. It was flying with a second Navy fighter when the crash occurred. The second fighter jet returned safely.

Patrick Taylor, a spokesman for Death Valley National Park, told ABC News that the park received a report from the Panamint Springs Resort that a military plane had crashed on the west side of Death Valley near Father Crowley Overlook in an area known as Star Wars Canyon, ABC reported.

The canyon — more than 5 miles long and up to 5,000 feet wide — is about a three-hour drive northeast of Los Angeles, off California Highway 190, the Los Angeles Times reported in a May 2019 feature story. Taylor told the LA Times for the story that the Air Force and Navy have used “Star Wars Canyon” as a training area since World War II, long before it became part of the national park in 1994.

“Most of the aircraft that pass through come from nearby bases such as Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake, Naval Air Station Lemoore, Edwards Air Force Base, Fresno Air National Guard Base and Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada. Foreign allied forces are also known to make flybys,” the newspaper stated.

KABC-TV reported that the seven who were injured were tourists from France and all part of the same family. “They were at an overlook checking out the view of the canyon, and say they didn’t even know the military used the area,” KABC said. “Most of them suffered nicks, cuts and burns when they were hit with shrapnel from the crash. One member of the group was more seriously injured with burn injuries on her back and was being taken to a Los Angeles-area hospital for treatment.”

The Super Hornet fighter jet is “able to perform virtually every mission in the tactical spectrum, including air superiority, day/night strike with precision-guided weapons, fighter escort, close air support, suppression of enemy air defenses, maritime strike, reconnaissance, forward air control and tanker missions,” Boeing’s website states.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
THE LATEST
Development of Pahrump’s Kellogg Park tracking right along

Development of Pahrump’s newest park, Kellogg Park on the southern end of the valley, continues to move along steadily, with a variety of milestones reached in recent months and officials with the town of Pahrump and Nye County now setting their sights on the next steps of the development process.

PLAC to decide on Rough Hat recommendations; meeting Nov. 30 in Pahrump

Throughout its many years, the Pahrump Public Lands Advisory Committee hasn’t seen a whole lot of community involvement, with the group historically hosting its monthly meetings amid almost empty audiences.

Together With Veterans hosting SWOT assessment meeting in Pahrump

The men and women who have served in the United States military have given of themselves, made sacrifices on a daily basis and put the safety of others before themselves in order to protect America but when service comes to an end and they return to civilian life, the transition can be jarring.

Beatty Advisory Board deals with trails, racing, blue light

There will be no informal election to choose appointees to the Beatty Town Advisory Board. Randy Reed and Erika Gerling, whose terms expire at the end of the year, were the only people to submit letters of interest, so the Board voted, at their Nov. 22 meeting, to forward their names to the Board of County Commissioners for reappointment.

Pahrump Powwow showcases Native American culture

November is National Native American Heritage Month and there could be no better time in which to celebrate the vibrant culture of the country’s many Native American tribes.

Nye County commissioners push back on COVID, again

Like an array of other issues and topics, COVID-19 has proven to be a subject which serves as yet another wedge between an already divided America and in many cases, it’s pitting local, state and federal governments against one another in a bid to decide what is best for the communities they serve.

Pahrump businesswoman facing embezzlement charge

It appears that the COVID-19 outbreak in a roundabout way has led to the arrest of a Pahrump woman on an alleged embezzlement charge.

Community Christmas Tree Lighting set for Saturday in Pahrump

With Thanksgiving taking place tomorrow and Christmas coming right on its heels just one month later, that means it is time for many to start turning their attention to the most wonderful time of the year. In the Pahrump Valley, the start of the Christmas season is one that is greeted with joyful delight but it wouldn’t feel quite complete without what has become a beloved local tradition, the lighting of the Community Christmas Tree.

Photos with Santa set for next two weekends in Pahrump

In a perfect world, the comfort and security of a warm, soft bed is something that all children would enjoy, but the unfortunate reality is that the world is not perfect.