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Coast Guard searching for survivors after military Learjet crashes

By Jimmy Adeel
|
May 11, 2023

Authorities are scrambling to find three missing individuals after a military jet crashed into the sea near San Clemente Island, California.

The incident occurred on the morning of Wednesday, May 10, prompting an immediate search and rescue operation by the Coast Guard, U.S. Navy, and Customs and Border Protection, the Daily Times reported.

Details of the Crash

The aircraft involved was a Phoenix Learjet, commonly used for military training.

The plane had taken off from Naval Air Station Point Mugu and lost contact with air traffic controllers approximately a mile from San Clemente Island, about 65 miles off the coast of San Diego, the LA Times reported.

The Joint Harbor Operations Center (JHOC) in San Diego received the initial report of the downed Learjet at 7:53 a.m. from the Fleet Area Control and Surveillance Facility (FACSFAC) on San Clemente Island.

The FACSFAC confirmed that the aircraft did not manage to make it back to the runway.

San Clemente Island serves as the U.S. Navy's only remaining live-fire range. As such, it is frequently utilized for military training exercises involving various aircraft, including the Learjet. Phoenix Air's website information affirms Learjet's role in such training sessions.

Launch of Rescue Effort

Following the crash, authorities launched a comprehensive search and rescue effort.

Crews discovered aircraft debris roughly a mile southwest of the island. Another Learjet, which was already airborne when the incident occurred, began an immediate investigation of the debris field.

It was soon joined by an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter from the Coast Guard. The U.S. Coast Guard released a statement providing more insight into the ongoing operations.

The statement reads in part, "Coast Guard, U.S. Navy, and U.S. Customs and Border Protection assets are searching for three people after a report of a downed aircraft approximately one-mile southwest of San Clemente Island, Wednesday morning."

Previous Incidents

This is not the first time a tragic accident has occurred in the vicinity of San Clemente Island during military training exercises.

In July 2020, an amphibious assault vehicle carrying eight U.S. Marines from Camp Pendleton and one Navy sailor sank near the island, resulting in their deaths.

A few weeks later, another incident occurred when two soldiers were killed in a Black Hawk helicopter crash during an exercise on the island.

Emergency Response & Support

A Customs and Border Protection Air and Marine Operations Multi-Role Enforcement Aircraft and the USS San Diego were diverted to aid in the search in response to the emergency broadcast.

An MH-60 Jayhawk aircrew from Coast Guard Sector San Diego was launched and immediately vectored toward the debris field.

The search efforts are ongoing to locate the three missing individuals.