Losses and Aviation Safety

VFA-151 F/A-18E Crash in Star Wars Canyon leaves Visitors Injured

The F/A-18E crash can result in restricted flights or even a shut down of the whole training area.

As we have reported earlier a single-seat F/A-18E Super Hornet assigned to the ‘Vigilantes’ of Strike Fighter Squadron 151 (VFA-151) based at Naval Air Station (NAS) Lemoore, Calif., crashed on Jul. 31, 2019 in the morning at approximately 10 a.m. PST, east of Naval Air Weapons Station (NAWS) China Lake, California.

The aircraft came down in or near the famous Canyon of Death Valley’s “Star Wars Canyon.”

It is reported by a spokesman for Death Valley National Park (CA) that the Super Hornet went down on the west side of Death Valley National Park, near the Father Crowley Overlook. He reported this from the Panamint Springs Resort.

This is extra bad news as several people on the ground are reported wounded and possibly worse. Father Crowley Overlook is a parking spot from where people walk up the hill for the best views.

The status of the pilot is still unknown.

“At approximately 10 a.m. PST, an F/A-18E Super Hornet assigned to the ‘Vigilantes’ of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 151 based at Naval Air Station Lemoore, Calif., crashed east of Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake, Calif.,” read a statement from spokeswoman Lt. Cmdr. Lydia Bock provided to USNI News.

“Search and rescue personnel are on scene and the status of the pilot is currently unknown. The cause of the crash is currently under investigation.”

As reported by Scramble Facebook News Magazine, a crash like this can result in restricted flights or even a shut down of the whole training area. But that is not the worst part, hopefully everybody on the ground as well as the pilot is okay.

The area is known as the Sidewinder Trail, Jedi Transition or Star Wars Canyon. The place to be for low flying action photography.

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.

Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

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