Three men were killed and eight others were injured in unrelated crashes in the Mojave Desert of a military helicopter heading for a training mission and a privately owned jet fighter being used in a television commercial, officials reported Thursday.
Army spokesmen at Ft. Irwin, about 150 miles northeast of Los Angeles, said 10 Utah National Guard soldiers were aboard a Huey helicopter when the aircraft went down four miles north of the main post shortly after 6 p.m. Wednesday.
The dead were identified as Sgt. 1st Class Peter A. Graves, 39, of Salt Lake City and Sgt. Todd Smit, 23, of West Jordan, Utah.
Four other passengers aboard the craft were airlifted Thursday to the Army's burn center at Ft. Sam Houston, Tex., where they were listed in serious to critical condition. The pilot and co-pilot were listed in stable condition at the Ft. Irwin base hospital.
The helicopter crash was under investigation by officers from the Army Safety Center at Ft. Rucker, Ala.
The civilian-owned, Vietnam War-era A-4 Skyhawk jet fighter crashed about 6:45 a.m. Thursday near California City, about 80 miles north of Los Angeles. The pilot of the plane--the only person aboard the craft--was killed, California City police said. He was identified as Raymond Guy Neely, 40, of Alta Loma, a former Marine pilot.
Officials said the plane may have struck the ground while making low passes for the filming for a commercial for a Japanese oil company. They said the filming was being handled by Applebox Productions in Los Angeles.