One pilot dead after planes collide | NevadaAppeal.com
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One pilot dead after planes collide

STEVE RANSON
Nevada Appeal News Service

A Navy pilot died Friday afternoon after his F/A-18C Hornet collided with a two-seater F-5 Tiger during a training mission approximately 60 miles east of Fallon, halfway between Middlegate and the Eastgate turnoff.

The name of the pilot is being withheld pending notification of next of kin.

Zip Upham, public affairs officer for the Fallon Naval Air Station, said the collision occurred at approximately 12:10 p.m. near one of the training ranges. Some of the wreckage was found about one mile from U.S. Highway 50.

Upham said the rescued pilots safely ejected from the F-5 and were taken to Banner Churchill Community Hospital. Upham said they were released Friday night.

According to Upham, the F-5 Tiger is assigned to the “Saints” of Fighter Squadron Composite ONE THREE (VFC-13) and based at Fallon. The single seat Hornet is assigned to the “Valions” of Strike Fighter Squadron ONE FIVE (VFA-15), which is located at Naval Air Station Oceana, Virginia Beach.

The Hornet belongs to a carrier air group that arrived in Fallon for one month of training at the beginning of June.

Upham said the F-5 Tiger is primarily used for training at NAS Fallon.

“It’s an adversary aircraft to simulate an enemy airplane,” he said. “It’s an early version of the Russian MIG.”

He also said the F-5 is a Vietnam-era fighter aircraft.

The Hornet was used in Operation Desert Storm and is the Navy’s main aircraft today in the Middle East, Upham said.

“It’s a fighter-attack aircraft that carries air-to-air missiles, infrared imaging air-to-ground missiles, gravity bombs and smart weapons,” he said.

This was the first fatal crash in a year. Upham said the last crash involving aircraft from NAS Fallon occurred in May 2007 when an SH-60 Seahwawk helicopter struck a power line during a nighttime training mission and crashed approximately 10 miles west of Austin.

Prior to the helicopter crash, Upham said four separate jet and two helicopter crashes resulting in one death have happened since 2002.

Upham said the cause of Friday’s collision is under investigation.

NAS Fallon is home to the Navy Strike and Warfare Center which was formed in 1996 with the consolidation of several fighter weapons schools including Top Gun.