An F-18 fighter jet belonging to the Navy crashed in Death Valley National Park on Wednesday morning, according to military and park service sources. The Navy says it dispatched a search and rescue helicopter to the site at 10 A.M. The pilot’s status is currently unknown. The NPS says visitors may have been injured in the crash.
Reports suggest the incident occurred near the Father Crowley Overlook, on the west side of the park. The area is commonly referred to as Star Wars Canyon, and is a popular lookout where visitors can watch military planes performing low-altitude training manuevers. The crash occurred just below the overlook’s parking lot, according to the automotive site The Drive. The overlook is currently closed.
The aircraft belonged to the VFA-151 Vigilantes based at the Naval Air Station in Lemoore, California, according to the site.
Multiple sources are reporting that civilian injuries are minor. We will update this article as the story develops.
The Los Angeles Times published a photo of the accident scene late this afternoon.
On Friday, the Navy concluded that the pilot of the F-18 was killed in the crash. "The Navy mourns the loss of one of our own and our hearts go out to the family and friends affected by this tragedy," a spokesperson stated.