F/A-18 Crash Kills Marine Corps Pilot

A Marine Corps pilot died Thursday night when his F/A-18C crashed during a training mission near Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, Calif. The pilot, Maj. Richard Norton, was a member of Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 232, Marine Aircraft Group 11, and stationed at MCAS Miramar, Calif., according to a Marine Corps release. He departed there to take part in a pre-deployment exercise at MAGCC. The cause of the crash is under investigation. Norton, commissioned in 2005, deployed to Afghanistan in 2012 and to Japan multiple times. “Losing Maj. Norton is a tremendous loss to the MAG-11 Team,” said Col. William Swan, commander of MAG-11, according to the release. “He was one of the best and brightest Hornet pilots our nation had to offer; our thoughts and prayers go out to his family.” The crash was the latest in a series of military jet mishaps that have occurred in recent months. In June, to South Carolina Air National Guard pilots safely ejected after their F-16s collided during a training flight in Jefferson County, Ga. About a week earlier, an Air Force Thunderbirds F-16 crashed after a flyover at the US Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo., where President Obama was giving the commencement address. A Navy Blue Angels pilot was killed after his F/A-18 crashed on June 2 during a practice airshow in Smyrna, Tenn. Two pilots and two weapons system officers safely ejected from their two F/A-18s after they collided off the coast of North Carolina in late May.