LEMOORE, California – Naval Air Station Lemoore is mourning the loss of its own.
The Navy has confirmed that the pilot of a fighter jet that crashed on Wednesday near China Lake is dead.
Search and rescue teams were looking for that missing pilot for hours. One day later, we are getting word that the pilot did not survive. The community and even people throughout the country are showing their support.
“I just know it affects everybody deeply when it’s a fellow shipmate. It doesn’t matter whatever squadron or whether the boat, the ship,” said Vanessa Heck of Alabama. Her son was also with VFA-22 up until this May.
Tragedy. A single-seater F/A-18E Super Hornet crashed in Inyo County around 10 Wednesday morning.
Navy friends and family are banding together.
“The Navy family; it’s just a big family and we just think of it as anyone serving is one of our own,” Heck said.
Search and rescue teams combed Rainbow Canyon looking for the pilot late into the evening. The community of Lemoore is showing their sympathy.
“I feel sorry for the family. I think they had a lot of hope that maybe he bailed out,” said Cheryl Bergren who we met in Lemoore on Thursday.
More than 24 hours later, we’re learning the pilot was found dead. Two jets were doing low level training when one of them crashed. The other pilot is okay.
The Super Hornet involved was assigned to the Vigilantes of Strike Fighter Squadron 151 based out of NAS Lemoore and attached to aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis.
There was also an outpouring of support on social media. The squadron informed fellow Vigilantes of the tragedy there too.
Authorities say Rainbow Canyon is common for training because of the challenging terrain.
“I’m surprised they fly in that canyon. I had no idea that they did that,” Bergren said.
Seven Death Valley Park visitors who witnessed the crash have cuts and burns from fragments of the jet.
“Shocked and sorry for the family and for the people that were hurt,” Bergren added.
The community and beyond is staying strong during a time of loss.
The Navy says we will learn more about that pilot within the next 24 hours. The cause of the crash is still being determined.