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Navy Super Hornet crashes near China Lake, pilot able to eject before impact


UPDATE: The pilot who ejected safely from an F/A-18E Super Hornet that experienced mishap during a training flight earlier today has been released from a local medical facility following a thorough examination.

F/A-18E Super Hornet pilot ejected before aircraft crash near Ridgecrest, Calif. (Photo: John Nady)

The Navy is continuing its investigation in cooperation with local authorities. For the safety of the public and to allow for a complete investigation, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has issued an Emergency Closure Order surrounding the crash site.

Original story:

An F/A-18E aircraft went down Tuesday in the California desert, according to Naval Air Station Lemoore officials.

The jet crashed around 10:10 a.m. near Highway 178 and Highway 14, not far from Redrock Inyokern Road and the Lake Isabella turnoff.

The Super Hornet from Naval Air Station Lemoore experienced a “mishap during a routine training flight,” just south of Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake, according to military officials. The pilot was safely ejected and taken to a local hospital for treatment.

“The U.S. Navy is cooperating fully with local authorities,” according to a Naval Air Station Lemoore social media post.

NAWS Public Affairs Officer Margo Allen confirmed the plane was not from China Lake. “The aircraft does not belong to us. Naval Air Station Lemoore is going to be the lead,” Allen told the Daily Independent Tuesday afternoon.

Emergency dispatchers said “munitions” were on board, but it’s unclear if the bombs or bullets were live or activated.

The crash spread debris at least 200 yards south of Highway 14 by the Inyokern Airport, officials said. As a result, a small fire started but was extinguished.

It is unknown whether poor visibility conditions resulting from California fires contributed to the crash. A haze could be seen covering much of the area before the incident.

Emergency personnel and the National Transportation Safety Board is heading to the scene, which likely won’t be cleaned up until the US military clears the area. Traffic in the area is stopped and being redirected.

Note: this story has been updated to provide more current information.

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