Captain Mark P. Graziano, 30, died when the T-38A he was piloting crashed approximately nine miles north of Edwards AFB, near California City. Graziano was assigned to the USAF Test Pilot School at Edwards, where he was undergoing training to become a test pilot.
His crew member, Major Lee V. Jones, was injured upon ejecting from the aircraft. He was transported to Kern Medical Center in Bakersfield, where he is listed in stable condition. Jones, a senior navigator, is also assigned to the USAF Test Pilot School, undergoing test navigator training.
"We are shocked and saddened by this sudden loss and our hearts and prayers go out to Mark's family and loved ones," said Col. Terry M. Luallen, commandant of the USAF Test Pilot School. "We are doing all we can to support Mark's family during this trying time."
At approximately 1:15 p.m. yesterday Edwards AFB was notified that a TPS aircraft had gone down near California City. Emergency responders from the base and Kern County arrived at the scene where they found Jones near the crash site, and transported him to Kern Medical Center. Graziano was pronounced dead at the scene.
A board of officers is investigating the accident. Base officials stress that the accident site may contain hazardous materials released from the crash, and ask that individuals refrain from entering the area until the investigation has been completed, and debris removed from the scene.