A photographer told to Los Angeles Times that he captured this F/A-18E Super Hornet before and after it crashed.
The photo in this post shows U.S. Navy F/A-18E BuNo. 168471 (which has been provided by The Aviation Geek Club contributor Ryan W. Gilchrist), NG-400, the CAG bird from VFA-151 Vigilantes that according to Los Angeles Times could be the Super Hornet that crashed on Jul. 31, 2019 in Star Wars Canyon.
A photographer in fact told to Los Angeles Times that he captured this aircraft before and after it crashed.
As we have reported the incident occurred at approximately 10 a.m., when a U.S. Navy single-seat F/A-18E crashed in Death Valley National Park near Father Crowley Vista Point, east of Naval Air Weapons Station (NAWS) China Lake, California.
“We’re looking for an aviator out there, hoping for the best,” an official said.
While it is not common for military jets to fly low over national parks, it is a standard practice in Death Valley’s Star Wars Canyon.
“It’s one of the main attractions,” said Death Valley National Park public information officer Patrick Taylor.
Known as the Jedi Transition to the military, the canyon – that was carved by an ancient lava flow – is located near NAWS China Lake and Edwards Air Force Base (AFB), deep in the California desert. The area has been used for low altitude flight training since World War II, with the narrow rock walls too alluring for fighter pilots to pass up.
This creates the side benefit of giving observers and photographers the unique ability to look down on the jets as they scream by, afterburners lit.
According to Scramble Facebook News Magazine, it is confirmed that seven tourists from France (all belong to one family) suffered minor injuries due to shrapnel from the crash. One person was taken to the hospital for further treatment. They were at Father Crowley Overlook checking out the view of the canyon, and they did not even know the military used the area.
Taylor in fact said the area also provides a parking lot and a restroom.
“There’s a lot of people that stop there totally unassociated with the jets,” he said.
Photo credit: U.S. Navy
H/T Ryan Wayne