65°F
weather icon Clear

Pilot dead in crash of Navy fighter jet at Death Valley

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
Supreme Court rejects California church’s challenge

Chief Justice John Roberts again was the deciding vote Friday when the U.S. Supreme Court rejected a California church’s attempt to overturn the state’s coronavirus restrictions on in-person religious services.

U.S. 95 closing for repairs in Nye, Esmeralda counties

The Nevada Department of Transportation is temporarily closing U.S. Highway 95 between the U.S. Route 6 and State Route 360 junctions from 6 a.m. June 3, through 4 p.m. June 17 in Esmeralda and Mineral counties, a closure needed for $2.43 million in federally funded emergency repairs.

Golden announces Pahrump properties will reopen June 4

Golden Entertainment, Inc., announced Friday that Pahrump Nugget Hotel & Casino, Gold Town Casino and Lakeside Casino & RV Park will reopen at 12:01 a.m. on Thursday, June 4.

Administration considers resuming nuclear testing

The Trump administration has discussed whether to conduct the first U.S. nuclear test explosion since 1992 in a move that would have far-reaching consequences for relations with other nuclear powers and reverse a decades-long moratorium on such actions, the Washington Post reported Thursday.

Striving for success, commission reduces Pahrump Fall Festival vendor fees

The Pahrump Fall Festival is, hands down, the single largest community event in the valley each year but over the past few years, it has been dwindling a bit in terms of participation by vendors offering merchandise and goodies for the thousands of people who turn out on a regular basis. With this in mind, town and county officials have made the decision to revise the vendor booth fee schedule, lowering the prices in an effort to attract more vendors and make the 2020 Fall Festival a resounding success.

Pahrump’s Movies in the Park given the go-ahead

It’s been more than two months since the last community gathering was held in Pahrump and though certain restrictions are still in place regarding the number of people allowed to congregate in public or private settings, the town is now readying for the first large-scale public event since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in Nevada, its annual Movies in the Park.

California Lottery

No one matched all five numbers and the mega number in the Wednesday, May 27 drawing of the California Super Lotto. The next jackpot will be at least $10 million.

Fire destroys several structures, vehicles

Pahrump Valley Fire and Rescue Services crews were met with explosions and red hot embers raining down upon them as they battled a destructive multi-structure fire on Tuesday evening, May 26th.

Thousands watch Nye County GOP virtual debate

The Nye County Republican Central Committee, with the participation of the Pahrump Valley Times, hosted a GOP debate last weekend for the contenders vying for the Republican vote in the 2020 primary election, with nearly three dozen candidates joining in to tackle a variety of topics pertinent to their various offices and thousands of voters watching over two days of discourse and debate.