Super Hornet Crash in ‘Star Wars Canyon’ – Pilot Still Missing
On Wednesday, an F/A-18E Super Hornet crash in Death Valley National Park’s “Star Wars Canyon” at around 10 a.m. injured seven people on the ground. The pilot is still missing. The jet was from strike fighter squadron VFA-151 stationed at Naval Air Station Lemoore.
UPDATE: Pilot is confirmed dead, according to Fox.
The aircraft from VFA-151 was on a routine training flight when the mishap occurred. Search and rescue units from @NAWS_CL and NAS Lemoore are on scene. The cause of the mishap is under investigation.— flynavy (@flynavy) July 31, 2019
The Super Hornet crash took place near the Father Crowley Overlook at the West end of the park. It is unclear whether the pilot ejected, although no one seems to have witnessed it. The jet that was flying with the downed aircraft circled the crash site, but there was no word on the pilot. The search continued Thursday.
According to one witness whose father rushed to the site after the crash, he “saw a large black scorch mark and shattered parts of the jet scattered throughout the area between the parking lot and lookout. A nose cone from the jet was the size of a bowling ball and the rest of the debris was no larger than a ball cap.” Aaron CassellNavy Times
“Star Wars Canyon” in Death Valley has been used for training since WWII, according to the Navy Times. People come from all over the world to see the aircraft fly through the canyon, although many go there just for the scenic view. The jet testing range is actually called “Rainbow Canyon.” The Star Wars moniker comes from the varied hues of the minerals in the canyon that resemble the colors in the movie character Luke Skywalker’s home planet.
The seven people injured when the Super Hornet crashed into the mountainside were tourists from France. They were unaware that the military used the area for training, and were surprised when the jet “screamed into view” and suddenly slammed into the wall of the canyon. Their injuries were minor, mostly slight burns and shrapnel from the crash. One of them had to be taken to a Los Angeles hospital with burns on her back, according to ABC7.
The status of a U.S. Navy pilot whose F/A-18E Super Hornet jet crashed in Death Valley National Park on Wednesday morning remains unknown nearly a day later.— Los Angeles Times (@latimes) August 1, 2019
The plane went down about 10 a.m. near an area often referred to as Star Wars Canyon. https://t.co/Mh8YGpSZ1Z
Featured photo: screenshot via Twitter/High Desert News