Pilot killed in jet crash
A civilian pilot flying for Airborne Tactical Advantage Co., was killed Tuesday morning when his F-21 Kfir jet crashed near the west gate of Naval Air Station Fallon, six miles east of the city limits.
Spokesman Matt Bannon of ATAC, which is based in Newport News, Va., said the pilot’s name is being withheld pending notification of the next of kin.
“We are concentrating on that,” he said in a telephone interview.
Bannon said he did not have additional details on the cause of the crash but will notify the base public affairs office when information becomes available. Bannon said the pilot was supporting the operations of Naval Strike and Air Warfare Center.
The said the F-21 jet crashed into a structure but no other information was provided.
This is the second time within two years that a jet belonging to ATAC crashed during a training mission. On July 8, 2010, a civilian pilot ejected safely before his A-4 Skyhawk jet from the air station crashed in an alfalfa field north of the base shortly after takeoff. No structures were damaged.
A Navy jet, however, crashed on Feb. 24 about 31 miles north of Fallon. Both pilots, who were temporarily assigned to NSAWC, ejected safely and were treated at the base hospital.
Firefighters from both NAS Fallon and Fallon/Churchill responded to the crash and subsequent fire.
Aircraft Tactical Advantage Co., which owned the jet, supports the mission at NAS Fallon. The contractor simulates enemy aircraft for Navy pilots during training exercises. The pilot was a civilian who worked for the company.
According to ATAC’s website, “For the last 16 years , ATAC has trained Navy, Marine, Air Force and Army aircrews, ship-crews, and Combat Controllers in the air-to-ship, air-to-air, and air-to-ground arenas … ATAC is the only civilian organization approved to train the U.S. Navy’s elite Fighter Weapons School, also known as ‘TOPGUN’ and is the only civilian organization to train the USAF’s F-22 Raptors.”
The F-21 Kfir is an Israeli-built, all-weather jet that was designed as a ground attack aircraft with a secondary role as a fighter. Most of the 212 Kfirs were built in the 1970s and early 1980s.
Since a civilian aircraft was involved in the crash, the NAS Fallon Public Affairs Office said the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board will be investigating the accident.