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Navy Jet crashes at airshow

A1FlyBoy

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CNN) -- A Navy fighter jet crashed Saturday while performing at a southern California air show, killing both crew members aboard, Navy officials said.

The jet's pilot, Navy Cmdr. Michael Norman, and the radar intercept officer, Marine Corps Capt. Andrew Muhs, died in the incident, said Navy spokeswoman Sarah Burford.

The QF-4 Phantom II went down at 12:20 p.m. (3:20 p.m. EDT) at the 2002 Mugu Air Show, a three-day event that began Friday at the Naval Base Ventura County, said Vance Vasquez, a Navy spokesman.

The base is about 50 miles north-northwest of Los Angeles.

The jet was the last aircraft to peel off from a four-plane formation. As it began reversing direction, two flashes appeared near the engines and the fighter began to waver.

CNN NewsPass VIDEO
Spectators are stunned as a Navy jet crashes, killing both crew members, at a Ventura, California, air show in this amateur video (April 21)

One of the crew members ejected, falling directly into the ball of fire caused by the crashing plane. Spectators gasped as the jet hit the ground.

"Watching this whole thing, before the plane hit, just knowing it was going down -- just amazing," said Don Dzukola, an air show fan from San Luis Obispo, California.

The aircraft crashed onto a county road bordering the Navy base. No one else was hurt in the accident, Vasquez said.

Authorities cancelled all air show performances and activities for the rest of Saturday and Sunday, he added.

The QF-4 Phantom II, which can fly both with crew and unmanned, was performing with three other aircraft as part of the show.

Structurally similar to an F-4 fighter jet, the Phantom primarily acts as a target for testing air-to-air and surface-to-air missiles. It is also used to monitor the flight of Tomahawk cruise missiles during test missions.
 

Timebuilder

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I saw it on TV. A shame. The crewmember bailed as the plane went inverted, blasting him in the wrong direction. We'll just have to wait and find out what caused the loss of control.
 
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