Sunday, November 27, 2022

U.S. Navy confirms pilot dead in Hornet crash in Star Wars Canyon

The U.S. Navy has confirmed that the pilot of the F/A-18E Super Hornet involved in the mishap on July 31 died in the crash.

The pilot of a Super Hornet was killed Wednesday when the fighter jet crashed into a ravine wall in California’s Death Valley, at a place commonly known as Star Wars Canyon, during a routine training flight.

In accordance with Department of Defense policy, the identity of the pilot will be withheld until 24 hours following notification of next of kin.


At approximately 10 a.m. PST on July 31, a F/A-18E Super Hornet assigned to the ‘Vigilantes’ of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 151 based at Naval Air Station Lemoore, California, crashed approximately 40 miles north of Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake, California. The aircraft was on a routine training mission in the area at the time. The cause of the crash is currently under investigation.

“The Navy mourns the loss of one of our own, and our hearts go out to the family and friends affected by this tragedy,” said in a statement.

Star Wars Canyon is a popular spot for tourists and photographers to watch military planes weave through desert ravines at high speed.

National park visitors told local news stations that the jet slammed into the canyon wall while traveling at a high rate of speed, sending billowing smoke into the air and shrapnel flying into a crowd nearby. The section of Death Valley National Park where the crash occurred remained closed to visitors Thursday afternoon, according to the park’s website.

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About this Author

Dylan Malyasov
Defense journalist and commentator. Aviation photographer. Dylan leads Defence Blog's coverage of global military news, focusing on engineering and technology across the U.S. defense industry.