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AF Gives Few Details on Crash of Secret Plane

October 17, 1987|Associated Press

LAS VEGAS — The crash of a secret plane in the Nevada desert remained shrouded in mystery Friday as the Air Force released the name of the pilot who was killed but refused to reveal further information.

Pentagon sources have said that the plane that crashed Wednesday night was a top-secret F-19 stealth fighter, which uses the latest electronic technology, materials and aerodynamic design to foil radar and infrared sensors.

The pilot of the downed plane was Maj. Michael C. Stewart, who was based at Nellis Air Force Base, Capt. Barry Anderson, a base spokesman, said. He declined to give Stewart's age, hometown or the wing to which he was attached--information normally released following Nellis air crashes.

Anderson said he had been instructed to release only the pilot's name and home base.

Nellis officials have also refused to disclose the type of aircraft involved in the crash on the Nellis gunnery range, although such information is normally released.

Plane Identified as Stealth

Pentagon sources who asked not to be identified said Thursday that the plane was a stealth fighter similar to one that crashed last year in California.

The plane went down about 100 miles northwest of Las Vegas and about 50 miles south of a secret base where about 50 stealth fighters are believed to be undergoing tests. The fighters, designed to be almost invisible to radar, fly in the test area only at night, presumably so pictures cannot be taken of them.

The pilot was the only one aboard, said Nellis Air Force Maj. Victor Andrijauskas. Emergency crews responded and secured the area, he said.

A plane believed to be a stealth fighter crashed in July, 1986, in the western Sierra Nevada, touching off a 150-acre brush fire in Sequoia National Park. That crash occurred about 12 miles northeast of Bakersfield. Air Force guards carrying rifles and pistols barred people from the site.

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