Navy Pilot Killed in F/A-18 Crash in California Desert

USS Nimitz action

An F/A-18E Super Hornet on the USS Nimitz. The Nimitz’s fighter wing is based at NAS Lemoore when not at sea. US Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class David Mercil.

A Navy pilot was killed in an F/A-18 fighter jet crash Friday in California.

The crash occurred in a remote area of California desert near the Nevada border, a region commonly used by military aircraft for training flights. The crash occurred at 2:30 p.m. Friday, June 3, the Navy said in a release. No other details of the crash were released. The identity of the pilot was not released pending notification of next of kin, the Navy said.

The jet was based about 150 miles away at Naval Air Station Lemoore, which the Navy calls a master jet base, outside Fresno. Lemoore is the home base of the fighter wings for five aircraft carriers when the jets are not at sea. The base’s Strike Fighter Wing Pacific and the Joint Strike Fighter Wing oversee the F/A-18 Super Hornets and F-35C Lightning II of the USS Carl Vinson, Ronald Reagan, Theodore Roosevelt, Nimitz, and Abraham Lincoln.

F/A-18 Crash

Four US Navy F/A-18E Super Hornets assigned to Naval Air Station Lemoore. An F/A-18 crash resulted in the death of a pilot Friday, June 3, 2022. US Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Betty R. Chevalier.

Four U.S. Navy F/A-18E Super Hornets assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 137, Naval Air Station Lemoore, California, fly a formation in preparation for landing over Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, Nov. 8, 2021. Several NAS Lemoore VFAs brought F-18s for the 53rd Wing’s Weapons System Evaluation Program East 22.02 which assesses units on combat capabilities during air-to-air operations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Betty R. Chevalier)

The mishap is the fourth F/A-18 crash in four years on the Navy’s California desert ranges, two of which have been fatal.

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Matt White is a senior editor for Coffee or Die Magazine. He was a Pararescueman in the Air Force and the Alaska Air National Guard for eight years and has more than a decade of experience in daily and magazine journalism. He also teaches journalism at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
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