DEATH VALLEY (CBSLA) — The U.S. Navy has identified the pilot of an FA-18E Super Hornet who died after the fighter jet crashed Wednesday in Death Valley.
The Navy confirmed the pilot killed in the crash was 33-year-old Lt. Charles Z. Walker who was assigned to the “Vigilantes” of VFA-151 based at Naval Air Station Lemoore in California’s Central Valley.
A tweet from the official twitter for the U.S. Naval Air Forces wrote, “The NAS Lemoore aviation family is grieving the loss of one of our own,” said CAPT James Bates, Commander, Strike Fighter Wing Pacific. “LT Walker was an incredible naval aviator, husband and son.”
“The NAS Lemoore aviation family is grieving the loss of one of our own,” said CAPT James Bates, Commander, Strike Fighter Wing Pacific. “LT Walker was an incredible naval aviator, husband and son.”
— flynavy (@flynavy) August 2, 2019
The U.S. Navy confirmed the death of the pilot just before 12:40 p.m. Thursday saying, “The Navy has confirmed that the pilot of the FA-18E died in the crash. In accordance with DoD policy, the identity of the pilot will be withheld 24 hours. 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 pilot was missing following the fighter jet crash that left seven civilians — six from the same family visiting the area from France — with burn injuries mostly to their backs and legs.
“All of them will need to undergo surgery to treat their burn injuries,” Dr. Peter Grossman of the Grossman Burn Center, said. “Some of them are going to start surgery tomorrow morning, and some will wait for a day or two until we take them to the operating room, but it’s very likely that a number of them are going to require skin grafts of their own.”
Witnesses said the crash caused the plane to explode with plane parts and burning fuel raining down on spectators.
The aircraft was on a routine training flight when the crash occurred.
The U.S. Naval Air Forces wrote Twitter, “He was an integral member of the Vigilante family and his absence will be keenly felt on the flight line. Our aviators understand the risk associated with this profession, and they knowingly accept it in service to our nation. The untimely loss of a fellow aviator and shipmate pains us all. Our heartfelt condolences go out to his family and friends.”
The cause of the crash is under investigation.