Navy says pilot in California fighter jet crash has died

Navy says pilot in California fighter jet crash has died
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A Navy fighter pilot that crashed his F/A-18E Super Hornet on Wednesday in California has died, the Navy confirmed on Thursday.

The pilot, who was assigned to the “Vigilantes” Strike Fighter Squadron 151, was based at Naval Air Station Lemoore and was flying a routine training mission when he crashed in Death Valley National Park.

“The Navy mourns the loss of one of our own and our hearts go out to the family and friends affected by this tragedy,” the Navy wrote on Twitter.

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“In accordance with [Defense Department] policy, the identity of the pilot will be withheld 24 hours,” pending next of kin notification.

The cause of the crash is currently under investigation.

The fighter jet crashed around 10 a.m. local time near the Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake, in a gorge often referred to as Star Wars Canyon but officially called Rainbow Canyon.

Search and rescue crews searched for the pilot through the night before declaring him dead.

It was also reported that seven park visitors had minor injuries, minor burns and cuts from jet fragments after it crashed and caused an explosion.

ABC News-affiliated station KABC-TV reported that tourists said they were taking photographs when the jet appeared and hit the canyon wall.