Thunderbirds pilot dies in F-16 crash in Nevada
iStock/Thinkstock(LAS VEGAS) — A pilot with the U.S. Air Force’s elite Thunderbirds flight-demonstration team died Wednesday when the pilot’s F-16 crashed near Nellis Air Force Base outside Las Vegas.
The Thunderbirds pilot died during a routine training flight at the Nevada Test and Training Range around 10:30 a.m., the Air Force confirmed in a statement.
The Air Force is not yet identifying the pilot so his family can be notified, according to the statement, which added that “an investigation is being conducted into the cause of the mishap.”
The Thunderbirds have canceled their appearance at this weekend’s “March Field Air & Space Expo” at March Air Reserve Base in California, and “it is unknown how this accident will impact the remainder of the 2018 Thunderbirds Season,” according to the statement.
The Thunderbirds consist of six of the Air Force’s best F-16 pilots, who fly difficult maneuvers in tandem and perform in airshows throughout the U.S. They’re based at Nellis.
Wednesday’s crash was the third aviation incident for the U.S. military in the last 48 hours.
On Tuesday, a Marine Corps Harrier crashed shortly after takeoff near the runway at Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti. The pilot ejected to safety.
That same day, a Marine Corps CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter crashed near El Centro, California. All four crew members on board were killed, the Marine Corps said.
This latest crash in Nevada follows a string of incidents at or near Nellis Air Force Base.
In January, an aircraft was required to abort its takeoff and subsequently caught fire. No personnel were harmed.
In September, a pilot was killed during a crash at the Nevada Test and Training Range.
On June 2, 2016, a Thunderbirds jet crashed outside of Colorado Springs, Colorado, following a flyover at the Air Force’s commencement exercises. The pilot ejected to safety. A later investigation revealed that the F-16 crashed because of an equipment malfunction.
That incident occurred the same day that 32-year-old Jeff Kuss, a member of with the Navy’s elite Blue Angels team, crashed his F/A-18 and died while preparing for an airshow in Tennessee.
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