LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Nellis Air Force Base confirmed the pilot killed in a crash Monday afternoon worked for Draken US, the company that provides adversary air support for the installation. The incident happened around 2:30 p.m. near Washington and Nellis.
The contracted plane was a Dassault Aviation Mirage F-1. The pilot was the sole occupant.
Draken released a statement, which reads:
Draken has received news of a downed aircraft out of Nellis AFB and the tragic loss of one of our pilots. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the people and families affected by this event. We are doing everything in our power to assist them in this time of need, and we are working closely with federal, state and local authorities. Draken US is also cooperating with investigating agencies to determine what led to this tragic accident.”Draken US
Nellis wrote in a press release, “The men and women of Team Nellis send our deepest condolences to the teammates, friends and family of our Draken wingman.”
As the aircraft was not military and “civilian flown,” the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) says it is sending an investigator to the scene.
Witnesses described the moments the plane crashed in their northeast valley neighborhood.
“It just went crssssssh, boom!,” recounted Teresa Nelsen.
Howard Fosmo recalled, “All at once, it just flipped right straight down. Nose down.”
Just before 3 p.m., Nellis said it was aware of an incident involving an aircraft, via a statement on Twitter.
About an hour later, the base tweeted more information, regarding the time and location of the incident.
Heavy smoke could be seen in the air following the crash. Taylor Grimm shared a photo with us.
And even more smoke and police cars arriving at the scene could be seen in this video Christian Mendoza sent.
“It didn’t sound normal; you can tell there was something wrong with it,” said Nelsen, “so, I looked at it, and it was coming down very fast, and it was pretty low.”
Fosmo shared, “I’m 86-years-old, and I’ve never seen anything like that in my life, only on TV.”
Witnesses send their well wishes to those impacted.
“My prayers go out to the people, to the pilot, you know, because it could have been us right there, you know,” said Lorena Liaz.
They add that it seemed like some sort of trailer caught fire once the plane crashed. Many say it’s a day they will never forget.
“Of all the things that I’ve seen in my life, that’s probably the No. 1 thing that scared me,” Mendoza shared.
Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak sent a tweet expressing his thoughts and prayers.
Clark County Commission Chairman Marilyn Kirkpatrick, whose district includes Nellis AFB and the site of the crash, released the following statement:
“I am incredibly saddened by today’s crash in East Las Vegas of a contractor-operated aircraft taking off from Nellis Air Force Base. Our hearts go out to the family and friends of the pilot and the larger Nellis AFB family. Today’s tragedy is a reminder of the important work being done every day at Nellis in defense of our nation.”
The pilot’s identity has not been released yet, and the cause of the crash is still being determined.