A pilot of the U.S. Air Force’s elite Thunderbirds team was killed in a fighter jet crash Wednesday in central Nevada, military officials said.
The F-16 Fighting Falcon from Nellis Air Force Base crashed on the Nevada Test and Training Range during a routine demonstration training flight at about 10:30 a.m. PT (1:30 p.m. ET), said base spokesman Staff Sgt. Jason Coulliard. The pilot was not immediately identified, pending next-of-kin notification.
The Thunderbirds said in a statement that the team’s participation this weekend at an expo at the March Air Reserve Base in Southern California has been canceled.
The squad is known as “America’s Ambassadors in Blue,” with the highly trained pilots performing aerobatic formations and maneuvers during military ceremonies.
An accident investigation has been opened into the cause of the mishap, which wass the third U.S. military aircraft crash this week.
Four crew members were killed when a Marine CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter crashed Tuesday in California during a training mission along the U.S.-Mexico border west of El Centro.
The same day, a Marine Harrier jet crashed during takeoff from an airport in the East African nation of Djibouti. The pilot ejected and was medically evaluated.
Last September at Nellis, a U.S. Air Force pilot died of injuries after a crash on the training range about 100 miles northwest of the base.
Officials did not disclose the type of aircraft Lt. Col. Eric Schultz had been piloting. He was assigned to a military command that conducts research and weapon system tests.
In January, an unspecified military aircraft aborted takeoff and caught fire at Nellis, but no serious injuries were reported.