Naval Air Station Lemoore fighter jet crashed near China Lake, pilot remains missing


CHINA LAKE, California – The US Navy has confirmed a single-seater F/A-18E Super Hornet crashed in Inyo County at 10 a.m. Wednesday morning.

Search and rescue teams from multiple agencies continued searching for the missing pilot late Wednesday night.

Captain James Bates, Commander Strike Fighter Wing Pacific, says two jets were conducting “low-level” training Wednesday morning at Rainbow Canyon, when one of them crashed. The jets were not flying in formation and the second pilot is okay.

It’s not clear if the pilot ejected from the plane before the crash. No details have been released about the pilot.

 Lt. Cmdr. Lydia Bock, commander, Joint Strike Fighter Wing public affairs officer released the following statement.

“At approximately 10 a.m. PST, a F/A-18E Super Hornet assigned to the ‘Vigilantes’ of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 151 based at Naval Air Station Lemoore, California, crashed east of Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake, California.

Authorities say Rainbow Canyon is a common area for training exercises, because of the challenging terrain.

It’s also a popular area for people to watch the jets, according to Death Valley Park officials.

Seven park visitors who were at a lookout point nearby witnessed the crash Wednesday. They have cuts and burns from fragments of the plane.

The cause of the crash is currently under investigation.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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