U.S. Fighter Jet Crashes in Mediterranean, Killing Pilot

A Tomcat fighter jet crashed Saturday during a training exercise in the Mediterranean Sea, killing one of the two crew members, the Navy said.

The F-14 went into the water immediately after launch from the USS John F. Kennedy aircraft carrier, which is on its way to deployment in the war in Afghanistan, said the statement from the U.S. Sixth Fleet, based in Gaeta, Italy.

Fleet spokesman Cmdr. Bob Ross said by telephone that the pilot and radar officer in the two-seat jet ejected and both were recovered, but the pilot was killed.

Officials with the Navy's Atlantic Fleet in Norfolk identified the pilot as Lt. Cmdr. Christopher M. Blaschum, 33, of Virginia Beach. Blaschum had accumulated more than 2,700 flight hours, of which 1,400 were in an F-14. He is survived by his wife and two children.

The radar officer, Lt. j.g. Rafe Wysham, 25, of Madras, Ore., was listed in good condition late Saturday, officials said in a release.

Both men were assigned to Fighter Squadron 143 based at Oceana Naval Air Station in Virginia Beach.

The cause of the crash is under investigation, Ross said.

The Kennedy was doing routine flight training in the Mediterranean 50 nautical miles south of Crete when the accident happened. The carriers is to relieve the USS Theodore Roosevelt in the anti-terror campaign, in which ships in the Arabian Sea have been used as platforms for the war in landlocked Afghanistan.