Cause of fighter jet crash in October undetermined

Air Force investigators couldn't pin down what caused an F-15C fighter jet to crash in October in a sparsely populated area of Lincoln County, officials at Air Combat Command in Langley, Va., said Wednesday.

The pilot ejected safely seconds before the $32 million jet slammed into the high-desert terrain, 85 miles northwest of the Las Vegas Valley.

"Given limited evidence," the Accident Investigation Board was unable to determine the cause of the Oct. 24 crash, Air Combat Command officials said in a news release, citing the board's report.

A summary and narrative of the report were listed but not accessible Wednesday on the Accident Investigation Board's website.

The pilot and the twin-engine fighter jet were assigned to the 422nd Test and Evaluation Squadron at Nellis Air Force Base.

"The pilot was flying a single-ship advanced handling characteristics sortie on the Nevada Test and Training Range when the aircraft departed from controlled flight, resulting in a spin," the news release said.

The aircraft was in a nose dive when it came out of the spin, and the pilot was forced to eject after attempting "an aggressive, yet unsuccessful dive recovery," according to the board's report.

The pilot suffered minor injuries. There were no civilian casualties or property damage and only minor environmental cleanup costs.

The fighter jet crashed on federal land northwest of Alamo. Lincoln County sheriff's deputies responded to a fireball and smoke plume reported by a citizen five miles from U.S. Highway 93.

The pilot had started walking over rough terrain and was picked up by a military helicopter about 30 minutes after the crash.

Contact reporter Keith Rogers at or 702-383-0308.