SAN DIEGO - Two military jets with San Diego-area connections have crashed within hours of each other -- on land and at sea -- prompting investigations today into what caused the non-fatality mishaps.
The first crash involved a U.S. Marine Corps. AV-8B Harrier and occurred in the city of Imperial shortly before 4:30 p.m. Wednesday; the second, involving a U.S. Navy FA-18E Hornet, happened around 10 p.m. off the coast of Southern California, according to military officials.
The Yuma, Ariz.-stationed Harrier, which is attached to the Miramar-based Third Marine Aircraft Wing, crashed into a residential neighborhood in Imperial, destroying three homes but injuring no one on the ground, according to Marine Corps Air Station Miramar's public affairs office. The pilot ejected before impact and suffered minor injuries.
According to Imperial city officials, eight homes were evacuated following the crash, including the three that were destroyed. Local authorities and military officials were conducting cleanup operations.
The Hornet crashed while attempting to land on the Coronado-based aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson, said U.S. Pacific Fleet officials. It's pilot also ejected before impact and was in stable condition, fleet officials said in a statement early today.
The jet has not been recovered.
Due to the crash, all other aircraft previously scheduled to land aboard the Carl Vinson were re-routed until further notice to Naval Air Station North Island in Coronado, the ship's homeport.
The Carl Vinson is currently off the coast of Southern California conducting training exercises. It was from that vessel that Osama bin Laden was buried at sea in May 2011.
The crash in Imperial was the second of its kind in less than a month involving a Yuma, Ariz.-stationed Harrier attached to Miramar's 3rd MAW. On May 9, a Harrier crashed on an unpopulated area of the Gila Indian Reservation, about 40 miles southeast of Phoenix. Like Wednesday's crash, the pilot in the May 9th incident survived and no one on the ground was injured.
According to the Yuma Sun, the two latest crashes are part of a total of 11 Harrier crashes that have occurred in southwest Arizona and California since 1996. In those 11 crashes, two pilots died and two people on the ground suffered minor injuries.
The Harrier, known for being able to take-off and land vertically, which gives it the moniker of Jump Jet, is a subsonic jet aircraft that is being phased out. The U.S. military says the British-developed Harrier has reached its natural life cycle after being in use since the late 1970s and early 1980s.
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