F/A-18E Super Hornet crashes west of Lemoore
F/A-18 crash

F/A-18E Super Hornet crashes west of Lemoore

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An F/A-18E Super Hornet fighter jet aircraft crashed west of Naval Air Station Lemoore at 3:55 p.m. Monday.

The pilot of the single-seat aircraft ejected safely and is in good condition, according to the base public affairs office. The name of the pilot has not been released.

During a press conference Monday, Capt. Monty Ashliman, commanding officer of NASL, said the pilot underwent medical evaluation following the crash.

"The individual is conscious and responsive and has been released by the medical community," Ashliman said. "The pilot is safe."

The aircraft crashed in a field just south of the operations side of the base, according to the NASL public affairs office. 

The crash site is reported to be north of Highway 198 in a dirt field just east of the Kings/Fresno county line, about two miles west of NASL, according to Adam Barresi, a spokesman for the California Highway Patrol.

The pilot reportedly ejected from the aircraft in mid-air, parachuted to the ground, landed and walked over to emergency responders on scene, according to Kings County Fire Chief Bill Lynch.

The parachute was reported as being on the ground about 300-400 yards west of where the plane was resting on the ground.

Ashliman said the airfield was temporarily shut down following the crash but was expected to resume operations Monday evening.

Assistant Sheriff Dave Putnam said the Kings County Sheriff's Office is helping NASL to secure the crash site and assist with the base's investigation. Putnam said he could not provide any further details.

Ashliman said the crash is under investigation. He declined to speculate how long the investigation would take.

The last crash near NASL happened on April 6, 2011, when an F/A-18F Super Hornet crashed on private farmland just west of the base. That crash killed Navy pilot Lt. Matthew Ira Lowe and weapon systems officer Lt. Nathan Hollingsworth Williams, who were training for an upcoming air show.

An investigation revealed that the aviators crashed just nine seconds after beginning a maneuver called the loaded roll. The maneuver had been used for VFA-122 Tactical Demonstration (TACDEMO) team at air shows, but was removed from demonstration flights following the crash. 

"Fortunately it is not very frequent," Ashliman said. "However, it is something we are prepared for, as far as first-responders, reclamation, working with the local communities so that we can minimize the impact it has, not only the installation and its mission, but to the surrounding communities as well."

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