U.S. Navy Fighter Jet Crashes in California’s Death Valley National Park

by Courtney Blackann

A U.S. Navy jet crashed into a national park in California this week, leaving the aircraft in complete wreckage. The pilot, however, was able to safely eject from the jet before it collided with the earth. It’s unclear what caused the incident.

The F/A-18F Super Hornet jet crashed into California’s Death Valley National Park around 3 p.m. Monday, Fox News reports. While the pilot survived the crash, he still was treated for minor injuries at a Las Vegas hospital the same evening before being released. His identity is unknown at this time.

“No civilians were harmed as a result of this incident,” the Navy said in a statement. “The National Park Service and Navy will work together to coordinate cleanup of this Wilderness area.”

The jet was a part of the Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 9 based at Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake. It’s unclear whether this was a routine mission or something else. However, the area is located about 150 miles northeast of Los Angeles.

The investigation into the jet crash is ongoing, officials said.

Two Die in Montana Plane Crash

While the Navy pilot was lucky he had the ability to eject from his plane before it hit the ground, another couple traveling with their son was not so fortunate.

In late September, Rob and Pam Stephens were flying in a small aircraft. They were with their son Riley when their small plane went down. It ended in flames as the aircraft hit the ground, leaving both parents dead. The son survived and was taken to a nearby hospital. However, Riley Stephens sustained severe burns over 70% of his body. Officials said he will have to undergo major surgery and has a long recovery ahead of him.

The plane went down at about 7:30 p.m. on a Sunday, authorities reported. The couple was owners of a flight school called Mission Aviation. It’s located in the same area the Stephens’ plane went down. Rob Stephens had more than 30 years of flight experience. Their son Riley was also an avid aviator and began instructing at his parents’ business by the time he was 15.

It’s unclear why the plane crashed. It’s also unknown who was flying at the time of the crash. Both the Federal Aviation Administration as well as the National Transportation Safety Board are looking into the incident.

“Rob embraces the aviation tradition of paying it forward and passing on to the next generation of pilots the accumulated knowledge and wisdom that his experience and the experiences of those that came before him, built into him,” a biography on the Mission Aviation site reads.