Fighter pilot survives landing mishap at Marine base in Southern California desert

An F/A-18 fighter jet had a landing mishap Tuesday evening at a military base in Southern California’s high desert, forcing the pilot to eject from the aircraft.

The pilot, stationed to a Marine Corps aviation group in South Carolina, was hospitalized with minor injuries, according to 1st Lt. John Roberts, a spokesman for the Marine Corps.

What precipitated the emergency escape is under investigation.


The incident was initially reported as a jet crash about 6 p.m. at the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center in Twentynine Palms, about 140 miles east of Los Angeles, according to a spokeswoman for the San Bernardino County Fire Department.

Roberts said a preliminary report indicated the jet had touched down, but for an unknown reason, the pilot needed to bail out of the aircraft.

The pilot’s identity was not released but he is with Marine Aircraft Group 31 at the Marine Corps air base in Beaufort, S.C. The purpose of the flight in Southern California was not disclosed.

The sprawling base in the middle of the Mojave Desert is used to train Marines and sailors in realistic settings for forward deployments.

An F/A-18C crashed July 27 during a training mission near the Twentynine Palms Marine base, killing Maj. Richard Norton, 36, of Arcadia.

Norton, a fighter pilot who joined the Marines in 2005, had been stationed at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar.

Twitter: @MattHjourno.


10:30 p.m.: This article was updated with comments from Lt. John Roberts.

This article was originally published at 9:25 p.m.