LAS VEGAS (AP) – A civilian pilot killed when a Dassault Mirage F-1 crashed near Nellis Air Force Base last month signaled a flight emergency and ejected moments before the plane crashed to the ground and ignited, federal crash investigators reported on Friday.
No one on the ground was injured in the May 24 crash in northeast Las Vegas, where a witness told the National Transportation Safety Board he saw the plane approaching low toward a runway then “fall from the sky” as the pilot ejected.
The NTSB preliminary report did not identify driver Nicholas Hunter Hamilton, 43, of Las Vegas, or provide details of his death. A final report is expected in several months.
Hamilton retired after 20 years as a U.S. Air Force fighter pilot and was employed by Draken International, a military contractor that supplies tactical aircraft and pilots for combat training to Nellis and on d ‘other sites.
The crash happened as Hamilton was returning to base after Weapons School support flights over the vast Nevada test and training field.
On his final turn to Nellis, he reported a “flap problem” and then declared an emergency, according to the NTSB report.
The plane missed houses and crashed into two backyards about 1 1/2 miles (2.4 kilometers) from the runway.