March 25, 2009 (by Asif Shamim) - An Air Force F-22 Raptor from Edwards Air Force Base crashed about 10.00h local time on March 25, approximately 35 miles northeast of the base claiming the life of an Lockheed Martin test pilot.
F-22A Raptor #91-4002 makes a low pass at Edwards AFB, California. A jet similar to this crashed today.
Michelle Coghill, a spokeswoman for the Air Combat Command was quoted to have said "It was a test mission," citing preliminary information. She said the condition of the lone pilot was not immediately known. An investigation would take place, Coghill said.
Later information released passed on the sad news that the pilot, David Cooley, 49, of Palmdale, Calif., had died in the accident.
Mr. Cooley worked as a test pilot with Lockheed Martin, and was employed at the 411th Flight Test Squadron, 412th Test Wing at Edwards AFB
. He joined Lockheed Martin in 2003 and worked on the F-22 Combined Test Force and was a 21-year veteran of the Air Force.
"This is a very difficult day for Edwards and those who knew and respected Dave as a warrior, test pilot and friend," said Maj. Gen. David Eichhorn, Air Force Flight Test Center commander. "Our thoughts and prayers are with Dave and his family as we struggle through, and do all we can to support them."
At approximately 10 a.m. Edwards AFB received word that the F-22A had gone down 35 miles northeast of the base. First responders transported Cooley from the crash scene to Victor Valley Community Hospital in Victorville, where he was pronounced dead.
Officers with the California Highway Patrol saw smoke in the area of Cuddedry Lake, an old emergency landing field for experimental planes. "We were told to stay out of the scene and that they were sending a rescue helicopter for the pilot," said Officer E. Smith, a spokesman for the Highway Patrol.
F-22s were grounded for two weeks after one production jet crashed at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada in December 2004. They were cleared again to fly after a review. The pilot in that crash successfully ejected.
A board of enquiry will investigate the accident.