Military jet crashes in California, killing pilot

PORT HUENEME, Calif. (AP) -- A military jet crashed into a field near a naval base off the Southern California coast on Wednesday, killing the pilot, authorities said.

The plane crashed and disintegrated at around 5:15 p.m. Wednesday near Naval Station Ventura County, sending up a huge plume of billowing black smoke.

The Ventura County Fire Department reported the pilot was killed. Nobody on the ground was hurt.

Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Allen Kenitzer said the aircraft was a Hawker Hunter MK.58.

The cause of the crash wasn't immediately known, nor was it clear if the plane was taking off or attempting to land at the base near the city or Port Hueneme, about 65 miles northwest of Los Angeles.

Kenitzer said the FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating.

A spokeswoman for Naval Base Ventura County did not immediately respond to phone messages.

The Hawker Hunter is a single-seat fighter-ground attack plane.

In May 2012 another Hawker Hunter crashed into a farm field near the Navy base, killing the pilot. In that instance, Thomas Bennett, 57, was piloting the privately owned jet. His plane had been contracted to play the enemy in training exercises.

In May 2011, three members aboard a Boeing 707 tanker loaded with jet fuel escaped with only minor injuries when their aircraft skidded off the runway while taking off from the base and exploded into flames.

That plane was carrying civilians and had a contract to provide fuel transport.

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