US Marine Killed in F/A-18C crash in California
US Marine Killed in F/A-18C Crash in California
The Marine Corps Times is reporting the death of a fighter pilot during the crash of an F/A-18C Hornet at around 10:30 pm Thursday near Twentynine Palms, California. The Marine Corps is not releasing the name of the pilot until next of kin has been notified. They also have not released many details of the incident.
The Marine pilot was from the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing based out of Marine Corps Air Station Miramar near San Diego.
Breaking 911 reported,
According to a Marine who witnessed the crash, the F/A-18 was in a dive preparing to drop ordnance on a simulated target when the aircraft broke apart in mid-air and erupted into a fireball. The base’s civilian air rescue immediately responded to the crash site–a strip of canyon roughly 10 miles south of I-40 called Gay’s Pass, said the Marine, who requested anonymity because of his active duty status.
The aircraft, from the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing out of Miramar, California, was supporting a Marine infantry company participating in training segment called the Air Assault Course. The roughly 36-hour course involves a Marine unit helicoptering into a simulated objective, where the Marines are then tasked to defend it. The Air Assault Course is a component of a larger training evolution that takes place over the course of a month at 29 Palms, said the Marine, who was participating in the exercise and watched the aircraft explode.
The Marine Corps goes to great lengths to prevent planes from being hit by other components of the exercises. Called “Deconfliction,” the mortars or other ground-based fire are timed to avoid the aircraft during the training. It is unclear what caused this aircraft to “break apart in mid-air.”
An investigation is ongoing.
The Marine Corps has struggled with giving pilots enough training time due to budget cuts. They have difficulty with older aircraft not being properly maintained…also due to budget cuts.