Pilot killed in Navy fighter jet crash in Southern California desert near Trona

Vapor trails form on a fighter jet
In this February 2017 file photo, vapor trails are seen forming on an F/A-18E Super Hornet over Death Valley National Park. The Navy said Friday that a fighter jet based at Naval Air Station Lemoore crashed in the Mojave Desert near Trona, killing the pilot.
(Ben Margot / Associated Press)

A Navy fighter jet crashed Friday in the Southern California desert, killing the pilot, authorities said.

An F/A-18E Super Hornet based at Naval Air Station Lemoore went down about 2:30 p.m. in the area of Trona, an unincorporated Mojave Desert community in San Bernardino County, the Navy announced in a statement.

Nobody on the ground was hurt.

The identity of the pilot and details of the crash weren’t immediately released.

The five sailors assigned to Naval Special Warfare units were returning from training in Imperial County when their van crashed.

June 3, 2022

Trona is about 236 miles southeast of the air station, which is in the Central Valley.

Lemoore is home to Commander Strike Fighter Wing Pacific and Commander Joint Strike Fighter Wing and hosts 16 operational Strike Fighter squadrons, according to its website.


In 2019, a Navy Super Hornet crashed in Death Valley National Park during a routine training mission, killing the pilot and slightly injuring seven park visitors who were struck by debris. They had gathered at a scenic overlook where aviation enthusiasts watch military pilots speeding low through a chasm dubbed Star Wars Canyon, officials said.

Last October, a Navy Super Hornet from Naval Air Station China Lake also crashed, and in 2020 another from Lemoore went down, both during training missions. The pilots safely ejected, one in a remote southern area of Death Valley National Park near the Nevada border and the other in the Mojave Desert.