May 21, 2012

Pilot killed in California jet crash identified

Officials have identified the pilot of a military-contracted jet who was killed May 18 when his aircraft crashed into a Southern California farm field as he completed a training exercise.

Fifty-seven-year-old Thomas Bennett, of Camarillo, Calif., died on impact when the privately owned Hawker Hunter jet trainer went down near Naval Base Ventura County, according to Craig Stevens, a senior deputy Ventura County medical examiner.

Stevens says the jet came down at a near-90 degree angle and Bennett was party ejected from the wreckage.

Federal investigators are trying to determine what caused the aircraft to crash about two miles from the military base runway.

Bennett’s son, Ryan Bennett, tells the Ventura County Star that his father was a former Navy pilot who retired as the captain of an aircraft carrier. AP

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