Navy jet crashes, killing two crew members


Two crew members were killed yesterday when the Navy jet they were flying crashed during a training exercise at Patuxent River Naval Air Station in St. Mary's County, officials said.

The two-person crew aboard a T-38A Talon was practicing an approach to a runway when the aircraft crashed, said John Romer, the base spokesman. No one else was aboard.

Firefighters and rescue workers were at the crash site within moments, Romer said. But he had no information on how far from the runway the jet hit ground.

"All of that is part of the investigation now under way," he said.

Identities of the crew members were being withheld by base officials until next of kin are notified. Romer said he did not know the rank of those killed or the extent of their flying experience aboard the Talon, a twin-engine, high-altitude supersonic jet.

The Talon is considered one of the safest aircraft in the military. The last Navy crash of a T-38 happened in 1978, also near Patuxent.

The two-seat jet was made by Northrop Corp. between 1961 and 1972. Romer said it was assigned to the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School.

Student pilots fly the T-38A to learn supersonic techniques, aerobatics, formation, night and instrument flying and cross-country navigation, according to the U.S. Department of Defense.

The aircraft, which reaches speeds of 812 mph, needs only 2,300 feet of runway for takeoff and can climb from sea level to nearly 30,000 feet in one minute.

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