June 15, 2021

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Pilot dead after military aircraft crashes in Las Vegas residential area – Reno Gazette Journal

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An A-10 Thunderbolt II from the 66th Weapons Squadron sits on the flightline at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., Jan. 14, 2021. The A-10 Thunderbolt II has excellent maneuverability at low airspeed and altitude and is a highly accurate and survivable weapons-delivery platform.

LAS VEGAS — A pilot has died after taking off from Nellis Air Force Base Monday and crashing around 2:30 p.m. outside the southern edge of the base. 

The pilot has not been identified, according to authorities, and no other personnel were on board.

The aircraft was owned, operated and piloted by Draken US, a Florida company contracted to provide adversary air support to Nellis Air Force Base. 

“Draken has received news of a downed aircraft out of Nellis AFB and the tragic loss of one of our pilots,” the company said in a statement. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to the people and families affected by this event. We are doing everything in our power to assist them in this time of need, and we are working closely with federal, state and local authorities. Draken US is also cooperating with investigating agencies to determine what led to this tragic accident.” 

Authorities reported the military aircraft “incident” that images showed included a fire Monday in a residential area not far from Nellis Air Force Base.

A base spokeswoman said she had no immediate information about the type of aircraft, whether there was a crash, the condition of a pilot or whether there were injuries to people on the ground.

Deputy Clark County Fire Chief Warren Whitney said fire crews were called to the area of Christy Lane, south of the air base. He did not provide details and or answer a follow-up telephone call.

Police closed off the area about 7 miles northeast of downtown Las Vegas, while some news crews reported that an aircraft had crashed.

Neighbors posted online images of a plume of smoke not far from a fence to the base, fire crews arriving and a helicopter circling the area.

Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak commented on the incident on Twitter Monday.

“Kathy and I are praying for all those involved in today’s incident — especially the men and women of [Nellis Air Force Base] and the first responders on the scene,” he wrote. 

The incident is under investigation, according to Nellis authorities. 

Nellis is best known internationally as host of periodic training exercises where U.S. and allied pilots conduct mock battles over a restricted military reserve in central Nevada that is half the size of the state of New Jersey. 

Aircraft based at Nellis include F-16 Falcon and F-22 Raptor fighter jets and A-10 Warthog attack jets.

The base also is home to the elite Thunderbirds flight demonstration team.

The crash was the first out of Nellis since Thunderbirds pilot Maj. Stephen Del Bango of Valencia, California, died in April 2018 during a training flight over the Nevada Test and Training Range.

In September 2017, an Air Force pilot died after a crash about 100 miles (160.93 kilometers) northwest of Nellis.

Contributing: Associated Press. 

Ed Komenda writes about Las Vegas for the Reno Gazette Journal and USA Today Network. Do you care about democracy? Then support local journalism by subscribing to the Reno Gazette Journal right here

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