US Navy Hornet crashes near Virginia Beach

Washington DC
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Two US Navy pilots ejected safely from a Boeing F/A-18D Hornet that crashed outside Naval Air Station Oceana, Virginia, on 6 April. But there is no information yet about possible casualties on the ground.

 

 ©ASSOCIATED PRESS

The USN says the two aviators are safe, but reports indicate that the stricken aircraft hit an apartment building shortly after take-off just after noon. The Hornet was operated by VFA-106, which is the navy's training squadron for the F/A-18 on the Atlantic coast. Witnesses cited by local press reports suggest the aircraft was attempting to return to base. The picture below shows the general location of the crash site (A) several miles to the northeast of the air station.

 

 ©GOOGLE MAPS

The USN says it is cooperating with local authorities. Meanwhile, a spokesman for US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta says via Twitter that the secretary is closely monitoring the aftermath of the crash and is concerned about the potential loss of life.

Photos posted on Twitter of the apartment complex that the fighter struck show heavy fire damage and the burnt-out tail-end of the F/A-18.

It is not yet clear what caused the twin-engine fighter to crash, but the USN typically conducts extensive safety investigations after such incidents.