Northern Utah man dies in Air Force fighter jet training accident
Sharon Braithwaite, Chandelis Duster, Stephanie Halasz, Schams Elwazer and Caroline Kelly, CNN & Colby Walker, KSLNewsRadio
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(CNN) — A US Air Force F-15 fighter jet pilot died Monday after the aircraft crashed in the North Sea off England, according to a statement from the 48th Fighter Wing.
The unit identified the pilot as 1st Lt. Kenneth Allen, assistant chief of weapons and tactics for the 493rd Fighter Squadron. Allen arrived at 48th Fighter Wing in February and is survived by his wife and parents, according to a statement.
“We are deeply saddened by the loss of Lt. Allen, and mourn with his family and his fellow Reapers in the 493rd Fighter Squadron,” Col. Will Marshall, 48th Fighter Wing commander, said in a statement. “The tremendous outpouring of love and support from our communities has been a ray of light in this time of darkness.”
Allen, 27, who was from northern Utah, died in a routine training accident that took place at 9:40 a.m. Monday, KSL reports. The cause of the F-15C Eagle crash is under investigation.
The 48th Fighter Wing said in an earlier statement that the cause of the crash was unknown at the time, and that U.K. Search and Rescue had been called for support.
“A U.S. Air Force F-15C Eagle crashed at approximately 0940 [local time] today in the North Sea,” the earlier statement said, noting that “at the time of the accident, the aircraft was on a routine training mission with one pilot on board.”
The aircraft was based at Royal Air Force Lakenheath, a US Air Force-operated base in Suffolk, England, that is home to the US Air Force’s Europe-based F-15 fighter wing.
The UK’s Coastguard was coordinating the search response and said in a statement to CNN it received reports of “an aeroplane going down into the sea 74 nautical miles off Flamborough Head.”
Flamborough Head is on the East Yorkshire coast, in northern England.
The British coast guard located the wreckage and search and rescue efforts were underway earlier Monday, according to a statement from the 48th Fighter Wing.
US Ambassador to the UK Woody Johnson tweeted his condolences.
“It is with great sorrow that we have learned of the loss of our Airman today. Our thoughts and prayers go out to family, friends and U.S. forces in the UK,” he said.
CNN has reached out to the Pentagon for additional details.
“I never knew a heart could shatter like this,” Allen’s wife Hannah wrote on Facebook. “But I’ve promised you today that the rest of my life will be a tribute to you. A tribute to the Christlike way you lived and loved. Kage please forgive me as I lean on your faith for awhile. I know you’ll find a way to stay close.”
The Follow the Flag organizations also posted condolences saying Allen will receive a true hero’s welcome upon his return to the United States.