A U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds pilot was killed Wednesday when his F-16 Fighting Falcon crashed over the Nevada Test and Training Range.
The incident happened around 10:30 a.m. Wednesday during a routine aerial demonstration training flight, Air Force officials said.
The identity of the pilot is being withheld for 24 hours while his family is notified.
An investigation is being conducted into the cause of the mishap.
The team’s participation at March Air Reserve Base’s “The March Field Air and Space Expo” has been canceled. It is unknown how this accident will impact the remainder of the 2018 Thunderbirds season, which is scheduled to run through early November, the Air Force said.
The Thunderbirds, officially known as the U.S. Air Force Air Demonstration Squadron, is the Air Force’s premiere demonstration team, known for its exciting and sharply choreographed shows.
The team’s jets often fly only a few feet from wingtip to wingtip, performing seemingly impossibly precise skills and capabilities.
This was Nellis’ first crash since two back-to-back crashes at the Nevada Test and Training Range last September, one of which was fatal.
On Sept. 5, Lt. Col. Eric Shultz died when his plane crashed at the range. The Air Force has still not identified what Shultz was flying, but said it was assigned to Air Force Materiel Command. Chief of Staff Gen. Dave Goldfein later told Military.com it was not an F-35.
And one day later, two A-10C Warthogs from the 57th Wing at Nellis crashed during what was called a routine training mission at the Nevada Test and Training Range. Both pilots ejected safely.
Defense News reporter Valerie Insinna contributed to this report.
Michelle Tan is the editor of Army Times and Air Force Times. She has covered the military for Military Times since 2005, and has embedded with U.S. troops in Iraq, Afghanistan, Kuwait, Haiti, Gabon and the Horn of Africa.
Stephen Losey is the air warfare reporter for Defense News. He previously covered leadership and personnel issues at Air Force Times, and the Pentagon, special operations and air warfare at Military.com. He has traveled to the Middle East to cover U.S. Air Force operations.