Home » Aviation » Navy Identifies Two Aviators Killed in Key West Super Hornet Crash


Navy Identifies Two Aviators Killed in Key West Super Hornet Crash

Lt. Cmdr. James Brice Johnson, Lt. Caleb Nathaniel King. US Nay Photos

The Navy identified two aviators who were killed following a crash off Naval Air Station Key West, Fla. on Wednesday.

Lt. Cmdr. James Brice Johnson and Lt. Caleb Nathaniel King, both of Florida, died after their F/A-18F Super Hornet went down during a landing approach on Wednesday.

“Johnson, a Naval Aviator and 2007 graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy, was piloting the jet when the incident occurred while King, a 2012 U.S. Naval Academy graduate, was serving as the Weapons Systems Operator,” read a statement from Naval Air Forces Atlantic.

Johnson and King were attached to Strike Fighter Attack Squadron (VFA) 213 “Black Lions” based at Naval Air Station Oceana, Va.

“The entire Blacklion Family is grieving the loss of two great Americans,” VFA-213’s Commanding Officer, Cmdr. Kevin Robb said in a statement.
“Lt. Cmdr. Johnson and Lt. King were phenomenal young men, exceptional naval aviators, and were living models of what honor, courage, and commitment really mean.”

The squadron was training at NAS Key West along with elements of Carrier Air Wing 8 at the time of the incident.

“Today, the squadron took the day off from training in order to grieve. The remaining squadrons in Carrier Air Wing 8 were briefed on the mishap and then resumed normal training operations,” read a Thursday statement AIRLANT.

The crash is currently under investigation. According to eyewitness accounts of the crash, while the Super Hornet was on approach a flash of fire surrounded the fighter.

“There was a fireball and it literally dropped out of the sky,” witness Barbie Wilson told The Virginian-Pilot.

The service has yet to recover the wreckage pending additional investigation.

“The F/A-18F remains in the water where it crashed and will stay there until a Mishap Investigation Board (MIB) conducts its investigation,” AIRLANT said in a statement.
“The MIB thoroughly examines previous aircraft maintenance, number of hours flown on the aircraft, physical condition of the aircrew and their activities previous to the accident.”

The Navy has also brought in a team to prevent environmental damage from the accident or the wreckage

“The goal is to restore the impact to the pre-existing condition and to coordinate the overall Navy response. This includes close coordination with other Navy entities, state, local and federal stakeholders and possibly outside agency contractors,” read the statement from AIRLANT.

VFA-213 is slated to return to Naval Air Station Oceana by the end of the month.

  • Chesapeakeguy

    God Bless them. These things are always a shame.

  • John Williamson

    These men & women who defend our nation in the AIR & on the GROUND have so many challenges may they always be in our hearts GOD BlESSED US WITH THEM LETS REMEMEMEMBER TIME TO CHERISH ALL T H O S E ? Who garnished our Flags go USA

  • Always sadden to learn of Class A accidents and the loss of two fellow sailors. I would like to do something for their families.

  • publius_maximus_III

    Finest of the fine.

  • So sad when this happens….two of the best America has to offer!

  • DaSaint

    So saddened for the loss their family, shipmates and friends are feeling. So appreciative of the service and ultimate sacrifice they’ve given to our country.

  • yerbullshit

    Fair winds and following seas shipmates. Prayers for the family & squadron.

  • incredulous1

    instant fireball while slow and low on approach? That is quite bizarre and sounds quite foul. Need to know who was out there that day.

    • MDK187

      Or who worked on the plane.

  • Gary Medley

    I served on the uss John F Kennedy in squadron VF-32 we also lost to great Pilots a terrible lost to family and country

  • Zachary Haupt

    Hopefully they will be remembered because I remember being deployed to iraq, al udeid, and Afghanistan and they would have a hard time lauching off the run way. Hopefully everything will go well for the investigation to how the crash happened.

  • WhiskyTangoFoxtrot

    Any minute now Fleet Admiral Duenee is going to start spouting off that “this has never happened with the JSF, in fact, the F-35 has a perfect safety record, it has never had a mechanical failure of any kind, the F-18 is old technology, it should be in the bone yard, the F-35 is the future, the F-35 is proven not to kill anyone, yadda yadda yadda”

  • tiger

    How does a USAFA grad wind up at sea???