The status of a U.S. Navy pilot whose F/A-18E Super Hornet jet crashed in Death Valley National Park on Wednesday morning remains unknown nearly a day later.
The plane went down about 10 a.m. near an area often referred to as Star Wars Canyon, not far from the Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake. Seven visitors suffered minor injuries, but the pilot was missing.
Navy Lt. Cmdr. Lydia Bock said search-and-rescue teams were going to continue to look for the pilot throughout the night.
“We’re still trying to figure things out on our end,” Bock said. “We have a search-and-rescue that has been dispatched out of China Lake and search-and-rescue out of Naval Station Lemoore with a medic on board.”ADVERTISEMENT
The status of the search is not clear as of early Thursday. The Navy did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
While it is not common for military jets to fly low over national parks, it is a standard practice in Death Valley.
“It’s one of the main attractions,” said Death Valley National Park public information officer Patrick Taylor.
The Air Force and Navy have used the area for military training practices since the early 1930s.
Most of the aircraft that pass through come from Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake, Naval Air Station Lemoore, Edwards Air Force Base, Fresno Air National Guard Base and Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada. International jets are also known to make flybys.
Times staff writer Ruben Vives contributed to this report.