A US Navy lieutenant died when his fighter jet crashed in the California desert late last week, military officials said Sunday night.
Slain pilot Richard Bullock was flying his F/A-18 Super Hornet on a training mission Friday afternoon when the plane crashed in a remote, uninhabited area near Trona, an unincorporated community in Mojave Desert Corporation in San Bernardino County, the Navy said in a statement.
No one on the ground was injured, but Bullock died, the Navy statement added. The exact cause of the fatal crash was still under investigation at the time Bullock’s identity was revealed, and military and local authorities were still working to recover his aircraft at this time.
“The Navy mourns this tragic loss alongside Lt. Bullock’s family, friends and shipmates,” the statement also read.
Bullock was part of Strike Fighter Squadron 113, based at Naval Air Station Lemoore in California. The airbase is about 240 miles northwest of Trona and is home to 16 attack fighter squadrons, its website says.
Friday’s crash was at least the fourth involving a Navy Super Hornet aircraft — and the second fatal — on a training mission since 2019, according to the Associated Press.
The first of three previous crashes, in Death Valley National Park, killed the pilot and left seven bystanders injured by debris, AP reported. The spectators were tourists at a lookout point that often attracts aviation enthusiasts interested in watching military pilots navigate a chasm colloquially known as Star Wars Canyon, officials said at the time.
Another Lemoore Super Hornet crashed in 2020, and last October the one at Naval Air Station China Lake crashed. Both pilots ejected safely, one near the Nevada border in Death Valley and the other in the Mojave Desert, the AP said.