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Old 08-01-2019, 05:22 AM
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Boats Boats is offline
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Question Navy pilot missing after fighter jet crashes in Death Valley

Navy pilot missing after fighter jet crashes in Death Valley
By: Nicholas Sakelaris - UPI 8-1-19

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A U.S. Navy F/A-18 Super Hornet breaks the sound barrier while performing aerial maneuvers over Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. File Photo by Joe Marino/Bill Cantrell/UPI | License Photo

Aug. 1 (UPI) -- The fate of a U.S. Navy pilot whose fighter jet crashed Wednesday in Death Valley, Calif., is not yet known, military officials say.

The pilot, based in central California, was flying a F/A-18E Super Hornet when it crashed in a region of Death Valley called Rainbow Canyon.

Navy officials said rescuers are trying to locate the pilot, who was not immediately identified. The crash slightly injured seven people on the ground.

The injured were French tourists. Most received nicks, cuts or minor burns from crash debris. One woman had serious burns on her back and was taken to a Los Angeles-area hospital, KABC-TV reported.

Officials said search and rescue helicopters have been searching the area for the downed pilot.

Spectators often gather at an overlook in Death Valley National Park to watch low-altitude flights, which have occurred there since the 1930s.

"That's one of the attractions, is that people can get pretty close and see the jets," park spokesman Patrick Taylor said.

Military investigators aren't yet sure what caused the fighter to crash.

"We're looking for an aviator out there, hoping for the best," said Capt. Jim Bates of the Strike Fighter Wing Pacific.

The pilot and fighter were assigned to the "Vigilantes" of Strike Fighter Squadron 151, based at Naval Air Station Lemoore, about 30 miles south of Fresno and 115 miles southeast of San Jose.

Bates said the pilot was performing a scheduled low-level flight when the crash occurred.

"It's a dynamic environment, and we train to the highest of standards," he said. "[The search area is] rugged, it's remote, so it's going to be challenging."

Rainbow Canyon is known colloquially as "Star Wars Canyon" due to its resemblance to the protagonist's home planet in the 1977 sci-fi blockbuster.

O Almighty Lord God, who neither slumberest nor sleepest; Protect and assist, we beseech thee, all those who at home or abroad, by land, by sea, or in the air, are serving this country, that they, being armed with thy defence, may be preserved evermore in all perils; and being filled with wisdom and girded with strength, may do their duty to thy honour and glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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