View Full Version : Authorities believe Marine Reserves fighter pilot perished in jet crash

04-24-04, 06:58 AM
Authorities believe Marine Reserves fighter pilot perished in jet crash

Pilot's identification withheld
12:10 p.m. April 23, 2004

Crash-scene investigators have concluded that a military pilot who went missing when the jet fighter he was flying went down near the Arizona border this week perished in the accident

Investigators and rescuers poring over the wreckage of the F/A-18A Hornet, which plunged into the Imperial County desert during a flight out of San Diego on Wednesday night, found evidence of the airman's death Thursday night, said Capt. Patrick Kerr of Marine Forces Reserve Public Affairs in New Orleans.

Kerr declined to elaborate on what was found.

The military has withheld the serviceman's name pending notification of relatives.

Officials had hoped the Marine Reserves pilot managed to safely eject before the aircraft plunged to the ground and exploded in a fireball just south of Glamis.

The wreckage of the jet, reported missing Wednesday evening after leaving Marine Corps Air Station Miramar on a training flight, was found Thursday morning south of Glamis, not far from the Arizona border.

Neither the pilot nor his ejection seat had been found since the incident/

The Hornet's wreckage was strewn over hundreds of yards of desert and Marines spent hours marking the area with flags. The remote area was sealed off to preserve it for investigators.

"The plane was destroyed," said Capt. Kevin Hyde. "It created a very large crater."

The $29 million aircraft belonged to VMFA-112, Marine Air Group 41, a reserve squadron based at Naval Air Station Fort Worth, Texas. The plane was at Miramar for training.

The Hornet, long a staple fighter/bomber for the Navy and Marine Corps, was one of two that left Miramar at 8:05 p.m. Wednesday. The lead Hornet subsequently lost communication with the other plane.

A search was begun at 9:15 p.m.

Aircraft searched through the night for the single-seat warplane and found its wreckage at about 9 a.m. yesterday.

The planes were training with the Camp Pendleton-based 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit, which is preparing to deploy overseas. The Hornets were engaged in night training at the time of the accident.

Rick Rogers: (760) 476-8212; rick.rogers@uniontrib.com