Navy fighter jet crashes in California; pilot ejected safely

FRESNO, Calif. (AP) – A Navy fighter jet crashed near a California military base Monday, but the pilot ejected and safely parachuted to the ground, authorities said.

No one else was aboard the F/A-18 Super Hornet that crashed south of the Lemoore Naval Air Station shortly before 4 p.m.

The pilot underwent medical evaluation, was found to be fine and was released, the base’s commanding officer Capt. Monty Ashliman said at a news conference.

The airfield was shut down for a few hours before operations resumed, Ashliman said.

The plane went down in a dirt field about three miles from the base, California Highway Patrol Officer Scott Jobinger said.

A fire from the crash was extinguished and no roads in the area were closed, Jobinger said.

When the pilot hit the ground, he walked over to paramedics, said Chief Bill Lynch of Kings County Fire Department, which also responded to the crash, told the Hanford Sentinel newspaper.

Lemoore Naval Air Station, about 45 miles south of Fresno, is a center for the Navy’s West Coast F/A-18 fighter jet operations.

Two of the Cold War-era jets from the base crashed into the western Pacific Ocean last year while embarked on the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson.

Another F/A-18 Super Hornet crashed in May after taking off from the aircraft carrier the USS Theodore Roosevelt, which was in the Persian Gulf conducting strike operations against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

(Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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