US Navy pilot dies in fighter jet crash in Southern California

A US Navy pilot was pronounced dead Friday after a jet fighter crashed in the Mojave Desert in southern California, and the incident is currently under investigation.

An F/A-18E Super Hornet crashed near Trona, California around 2:30 p.m. PDT (5:30 p.m. ET) and the Navy reported the death in a brief press release that did not identify the deceased pilot.

The pilot’s identity will not be released until 24 hours after the next of kin have been notified, the Navy statement said.

No civilians were harmed by the crash.

A Super Hornet pictured in 2002
An F/A18 “Super Hornet” operated by Lt. Corey L. Pritchard makes the new aircraft’s first carrier landing July 24, 2002 aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln. A Super Hornet crashed in California on Friday, causing the death of the pilot.
Kittie VandenBosch-US Navy/Getty Images

The Navy said federal firefighters and security personnel from Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake were at the scene of the crash.

The Super Hornet operated out of Naval Air Station Lemoore, where Commander Strike Fighter Wing Pacific and Commander Joint Strike Fighter Wing are based.

Naval Air Station Lemoore has 16 operational Strike Fighter squadrons.

The cause of the crash is now under investigation and no details are known about the incident at this time.

Trona is an unincorporated community in San Bernardino County in the Mojave Desert approximately 236 miles southeast of Naval Air Station.

This isn’t the first time a Super Hornet has crashed in California. One crash happened last year and another in 2020 during training missions, and both pilots were able to safely eject from the planes.

A pilot was killed in a crash in Death Valley National Park in 2019 while participating in a training exercise. Seven visitors to the park were also slightly injured by debris from the crash.

In another incident on Friday, a Naval Special Warfare sailor was killed and four others injured after a traffic accident in Coronado, Calif., as the individuals were returning from training at Camp Billymachen in Niland, Calif.

The name of the deceased will also not be released until 24 hours after the next of kin are notified, while the names of the injured are also withheld at that time. The sailor was pronounced dead at the scene and the four others were taken to local hospitals for treatment.

“Two sailors are in critical condition and two in stable condition,” the Navy said in a statement. “The sailors are all assigned to naval special warfare units on the west coast.”

The statement also noted that the California Highway Patrol was investigating the cause of the incident, which “resulted in the tragic loss of a teammate.”

news week has asked the Ministry of Defense for comment. US Navy pilot dies in fighter jet crash in Southern California

Rick Schindler

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