F-18 Crashes into San Diego Neighborhood



[From the headlines at Military.com]

An F-18 military jet approaching a Marine base crashed near a busy highway in a densely populated San Diego neighborhood Monday, sparking at least one house fire.

The pilot ejected, but it wasn't immediately clear whether the pilot or anyone on the ground was injured, officials said.

The plane crashed around noon Monday as it prepared to land at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, said Ian Gregor, a Federal Aviation Administration spokesman. The crash occurred two miles from the base.

Gregor did not know the pilot's condition or how many people were in the plane before it crashed near Interstate 805.

A high school sits near the crash site. Television news footage showed what appeared to be the remnants of a smoldering house and two cars on fire.

Steve Krasner, who lives a few blocks away in the earthquake-prone region, said he first thought the shaking generated by the crash was the long-anticipated "Big One."

He was in his kitchen when he heard two loud explosions and looked outside, then heard a larger blast.

"The house shook; the ground shook. It was like I was frozen in my place," Krasner said.

"It was bigger than any earthquake I ever felt," he said. "The flames were billowing overhead."

Dean Costa, who was about two blocks away at his father's house, said he felt the building vibrate, then made his way close to the crash site and saw two houses on fire and several cars explode.

"It was just crazy," said Costa, 22. "There was debris everywhere."

Maurice Luque, a spokesman for the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department, said he didn't know whether anyone on the ground was injured.

A Miramar spokeswoman said base workers were sent to the crash site.

"We are still trying to confirm the aircraft even belongs to us," said Marine Staff Sgt. Bobbie Bryant.

The F-18 is a supersonic jet used widely in the Navy and Marine Corps and by the Navy's stunt-flying Blue Angels. An F-18 crashed at Miramar in November 2006, but the pilot ejected safely.

Miramar, well known for its role in the movie "Top Gun," is home to some 10,000 Marines. It was operated by the Navy until 1996.

(Editor's note: Other sources report the aircraft was an F/A-18D attached to VFMAT-101. Although that model of aircraft normally has a two-man crew, the mishap aircraft was flown without anyone in the rear cockpit.)

-- Christian

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