LEMOORE, Calif. (AP) — A fighter jet crashed into a field near a Central California air base on Wednesday, killing the two people on board, officials said.
Fresno County deputy coroner Sarah Davis confirmed the deaths with The Associated Press, but did not release other details.
Officials from the Naval Air Station in Lemoore said the F-18 aircraft went down shortly after noon in a grassy field about half a mile from the base. Military officials said the two men killed included a pilot and weapons system officer. Officials did not identify the men. Navy spokeswoman Melinda Larson said the crash was under investigation.
The crash happened about a half mile from where a crew for a farm labor contractor was planting tomatoes, and the supervisor Jonathan Aguayo described a scene involving black smoke and scattered debris.
"I heard a loud noise, I turned around and saw some smoke," Aguayo said. "It was a big black type of smoke coming off the ground. When my dad and I drove up to take a closer look, we saw some debris in the field, smoldering. One large piece and a bunch of smaller pieces."
Aguayo said he heard the crash bud did not see it happen.
F-18 Hornets are jets that are used by the military for combat operations and also in the Navy's Blue Angels Flight Demonstration Squadron, which performs aerial shows.
Lemoore is about 30 miles south of Fresno in Central California. The Naval Air Station, which is home to about 275 jets, is the West Coast hub for the U.S. Pacific Fleet and its mission is to train and man west coast Strike-Fighter squadrons.
Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.
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