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Private plane used in military exercises crashes near Point Mugu; pilot killed

  • Published
  • By Marjorie Hernandez
  • Ventura County Star
The pilot of a former British military plane died Friday when it crashed in an agricultural field on its return to Point Mugu.

The crash of the private plane, contracted by the Navy for military exercises, came exactly one year after a civilian air tanker crashed at Point Mugu.

The downed plane was a Hawker Hunter, a single-seat fighter/ground attack monoplane. It crashed about 12:15 p.m. in a field off Broome Ranch Road between CSU Channel Islands in Camarillo and Point Mugu.

The Hawker Hunter jet belonged to Airborne Tactical Advantage Co., a contractor for Naval Base Ventura County, said Navy spokesman Vance Vasquez. The company's website says it operates the Mk-58 Hawker Hunter.

Matt Bannon, spokesman for Airborne Tactical, would not release the name of the pilot until the family had been reached. County coroner officials were still at the scene late this afternoon.

The Virginia-based company helps conduct tactical exercises at Point Mugu, officials said. "These are ex-military planes that are used as adversary support ... they play the 'bad guys' during exercises," Vasquez said.

The plane was returning to Point Mugu with another Airborne Tactical Hawker when it crashed about 1.5 miles from the base, Vasquez said.

Sergio Mendoza, 23, was working in a celery field when he saw the two planes flying together. Mendoza said he saw one jet catch on fire and start breaking apart midair before he lost sight of the plane going down.