LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Nellis Air Force Base officials confirm that a contractor-operated aircraft from the base has crashed near Cheyenne Avenue and Nellis Boulevard in Las Vegas.
The aircraft, which National Transportation Safety Board officials have identified as a Dassault Aviation Mirage F-1, took off from the base around 2:30 p.m. today and crashed shortly after.
“This is a first for me, I’ve seen news reports from other stuff but I’ve never had this in person actually being at the scene of the crash," said Anthony Milano, who happened to be taking pictures of aircraft just before the crash.
“Right after he came down, they immediately had ambulances and fire engines coming out of Nellis Air Force Base," added Milano.
People living in northeast Las Vegas are used to seeing and hearing military aircraft.
“The plane was low, I have never heard a plane fly that low before, maybe 1000 feet off the ground," described John Hammond, who lives in the flight path of Nellis Air Force Base.
Hammond says it sounded like the aircraft's engine was not correctly functioning.
“It sounded like a plane in distress and then there was another plane that came right after, but it sound like a motor in distress," explained Hammond.
According to authorities, the aircraft was owned, operated, and piloted by Draken US, a Florida-based company contracted to provide adversary air support to Nellis Air Force Base.
Nellis Air Force Base is a training base that uses both military-owned and contractor-owned aircraft for simulations and training.
Draken's website says they provide, "Instructors with recent front-line experience provide high-speed, realistic training for the defense of land-based and sea-based assets."
“Draken has received news of a downed aircraft out of Nellis AFB and the tragic loss of one of our pilots. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the people and families affected by this event. We are doing everything in our power to assist them in this time of need, and we are working closely with federal, state and local authorities. Draken US is also cooperating with investigating agencies to determine what led to this tragic accident,” said Draken US.
Back in October 2020, the U.S. Department of Defense announced the award of contracts to seven civilian contractors, including Draken, with the total cost in the range of $6.4 billion. The contracts go through Oc. 29, 2024.
The pilot’s identity has not yet been released at this time, and no one else was aboard the aircraft.
Multiple federal and local first responders are on the scene.
The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the crash.
According to Retired Brigadier General Robert Novotny, who was Commander of the 57th Wing at Nellis Air Force Base until Nov. 2020, "We've contracted with multiple companies around the United States to provide additional services, training platforms to train against."
Watch the full interview with Retired Brigadier General Robert Novotny:
Here is a look at the scene just two hours after the incident:
Gov. Steve Sisolak released a statement on his Twitter account saying, "Kathy and I are praying for all those involved in today's incident -- especially the men and women of Nellis AFB and the first responders on the scene."
Watch KTNV news and livestreams on Roku and Apple TV