Navy Drops Search for Missing Aviator

The search was called off Thursday for a naval aviator missing after the jet he was flying crashed in the Pacific Ocean about 70 miles south of San Clemente Island.

Lt. Richard B. Bridges Jr., of Acworth, Ga., is presumed lost at sea, said Fred Mitchell, a spokesman for North Island Naval Air Station.

Navy officers called off the search for the missing Bridges at 6 p.m., Mitchell said.

Bridges, 28, and Lt. Todd M. Odegaard, 26, were aboard a twin-engine S-3 Viking when it ditched in the ocean Wednesday. The aircraft, which is used to hunt submarines, was on a training mission, the Navy said.

Navy air controllers lost radio contact with the plane, and when it failed to return to North Island at 4:30 p.m., Coast Guard and Navy searchers were dispatched to area around San Clemente Island.

Crewmen aboard a Coast Guard C-130 aircraft spotted Odegaard, who is from Plymouth, Minn., in the water and dropped a life raft to him. He was rescued from the water by the crew of a Navy helicopter.

The S-3, which can operate off aircraft carriers, normally carries a crew of four, but just had the two men aboard when it crashed. Odegaard was piloting the plane and Bridges was the flight officer.

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