The pilot of an F/A-18 Hornet military aircraft is confirmed dead after a crash late Thursday, Fox News reported. The aircraft went down in a remote area near the Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in San Diego.
The body of the pilot, who was the only person on board at the time, was recovered from the wreckage early Friday. "With a heavy heart, our condolences go to the Marine's family during this time," a Marine Corps spokesperson said in a statement.
Corps policy dictates that the name of the pilot will be withheld until 24 hours after the family is notified. An investigation into what caused the crash is currently underway.
"We are aware of an accident involving an F/A-18 Hornet in the vicinity of MCAS Miramar at 11:54 P.M. PST," a statement from the Marine Corps Air Station Miramar said. "This aircraft is not part of 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing but was operating out of MCAS Miramar," it added.
"The crash site is on government property east of the air station, and there are no indications of damage to property on the ground," the statement explained. The aircraft was part of the "Fighting Bengals" Marine All-Weather Fighter Attack Squadron 224 based out of South Carolina, the BBC reported.
Both the Marine Corps and the Navy have used the F/A-18 Hornet. It was introduced into the Marine fleet in 1983 and then into the Navy in 1984.
Considered a "workhorse" of the military, the aircraft is all-weather and used for attack and fighter missions. This is not the first time an F/A-18 has crashed, although these incidents are rare.
The Miramar unit had another fighter jet crash in Georgia during a low-altitude training in 2015. That crash did not result in any fatalities as the weapons systems officer and the pilot both ejected and only sustained minor injuries.
In 2012, a Navy F/A-18 went down in Virginia Beach, Virginia, because of a mechanical failure, CNN reported at the time. The aircraft crashed in a nearby apartment complex.
Seven people were injured, including the two pilots who ejected, but all recovered from their injuries. A Navy spokesperson called it a "miracle" that nobody died in the fiery crash.
"I don’t speak for anybody’s religious beliefs, but the mayor and I both agreed that if you want to define a miracle, what happened here yesterday meets that definition for me," Four-Star Adm. John Harvey, U.S. Fleet Forces Command head, said at the time. Unfortunately, a 2008 crash did not turn out so miraculously.
Four people, including a 15-month-old girl, were killed when a Marine Corps F/A-18D Hornet crashed into a neighborhood in San Diego, The San Diego Times reported in a retrospective of the crash. That accident was due to mechanical failure but happened in a residential area due to failures in the chain of command.
Instead of allowing the pilot to attempt a landing that would bring the aircraft over the sea, the squadron leader was eager to bring the aircraft back to the Miramar base to disastrous consequences. "This particular incident is taught at the Naval flight school in Pensacola," Capt. Matthew Gregory, who is director of communication for Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, said.
Military aircraft training can be perilous for those in the air and on the ground. However, it's a necessary part of wartime readiness that is vital to the safety of our nation.