Missing pilot identified in jet crash

CORONADO (CNS) – The U.S. Navy publicly identified the pilot who was presumed dead and whose body was missing in the western Pacific when two jets crashed after taking off from the deck of the USS Carl Vinson, a San Diego-based aircraft carrier.

Lt. Nathan Poloski, 26, was a native of Lake Arrowhead and the pilot of one of the FA-18C Hornet fighter jets that collided about seven miles after launching from the Carl Vinson’s flight deck at 5:40 p.m. Thursday, according to the Navy. The search for Poloski was ended Saturday after an extensive effort that covered 3,000 nautical miles.

Poloski was a 2009 graduate of the U.S. Naval academy who joined Strike Fighter Squadron 94 in April, according to the Navy. His squadron was assigned to Carrier Air Wing 17, based at Naval Air Station Lemoore, and was part of the Carl Vinson Carrier Strike Group.

“Nathan was an outstanding person, naval officer and aviator,” said Cmdr. Michael Langbehn, commanding officer of Strike Fighter Squadron 94. “My personal thoughts and prayers are for his family, friends and shipmates as they endure this immeasurable loss.”

The other pilot, assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron 113, was quickly located after the crash and returned to the Carl Vinson to receive medical attention, according to the Navy. That pilot was released from medical facilities aboard the ship, which was about 250 nautical miles west of Wake Island at the time of the crash.

The Carl Vinson searched the apparent crash site with the aid of guided-missile cruiser USS Bunker Hill, guided-missile destroyers USS Gridley, USS Sterett, USS Dewey, helicopters assigned to Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 15 and Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 73, P-8 Poseidon aircraft from Guam, and satellite imagery, the Navy said.

“This is an exceptionally difficult time for the friends and family of the missing pilot and the Navy community,” said the commander of the Carl Vinson Carrier Strike Group, Rear Adm. Christopher Grady. “Our thoughts and prayers are with everyone affected by this tragedy.”

The crash came as the Carl Vinson and Carrier Air Wing 17, which includes nine fixed-wing and helicopter squadrons, were supporting security and stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region, according to the Navy.

The Carl Vinson Carrier Strike Group departed San Diego Aug. 22 for deployment in the Western Pacific and Middle East. The vessels in the strike force include the Carl Vinson, the Bunker Hill and guided-missile destroyers USS Gridley, USS Sterett and USS Dewey.

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