The US Navy confirmed Thursday that the pilot of the F/A-18E Super Hornet that crashed Wednesday in Death Valley National Park died as a result of the crash.
“The Navy has confirmed that the pilot of the F/A-18E died in the crash,” US Naval Air Forces said in a statement.
“The Navy mourns the loss of one of our own and our thoughts go out to the family and friends affected by this tragedy,” the statement added.
In accordance with Department of Defense policy the name of the pilot is being withheld for 24 hours to allow for family notification.
The crash took place in Death Valley National Park at a spot known to aviation enthusiasts as Star Wars Canyon, according to park spokesman Patrick Taylor, who told CNN that seven visitors had suffered minor injuries as a result.
As a general rule, military jets are not allowed to fly over national parks, but an exception was made over this section of Death Valley when it became a national park 25 years ago. In fact, Taylor said, that particular vista is a popular place to watch military training flights.
Adm. John Richardson, the chief of naval operations, issued a statement on the crash late Wednesday.
“I ask that we all come together to help support the family, friends, and shipmates of the pilot who crashed in California today. Our thoughts are also with those reported injured on the ground,” Richardson wrote on Twitter.
The F/A-18 had been assigned to the “Vigilantes” of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 151 based at Naval Air Station Lemoore, California.