The Navy has revealed the identity of the pilot still missing after two F/A-18 Hornet Jets collided in mid-air shortly after taking off from the USS Carl Vinson last Friday evening. Extensive search efforts for the 26-year-old pilot, Lt. Nathan Poloski, were called off Sunday, and he was declared presumed deceased Monday, September 15.
Friday’s crash involved Poloski’s F/A-18C Hornet and another Hornet aircraft during what was reported as routine flight operations. The other pilot was quickly recovered and treated on board the Carl Vinson, from which the two aircraft had launched. He was released shortly thereafter.
The two F/A-18C aircraft, one assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 94 and the other assigned to VFA 113, had launched from the flight deck and were in the process of proceeding to their initial stations when they apparently collided approximately seven miles from the ship, the Navy stated. VFA 94 and 113 are both part of Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 17. CNW and the Carl Vinson are currently supporting security and stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.
The Navy reportedly searched for Poloski, covering more than 3,000 square miles using USS Carl Vinson, 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. None of Poloski’s remains were located in the course of the search.
“Nathan was an outstanding person, naval officer and aviator,” said Cmdr. Michael Langbehn, commanding officer of VFA 94. “My personal thoughts and prayers are for his family, friends and shipmates as they endure this immeasurable loss.”
Poloski, a native of Lake Arrowhead, California, graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 2009 before reporting to Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 94, based in Lemoore, California, in April, 2014, the Navy conveyed.
“This is an exceptionally difficult time for the friends and family of the missing pilot and the Navy community,” said Rear Adm. Christopher Grady, Commander, Carl Vinson Carrier Strike Group. “We are extremely grateful for the outpouring of support from the community. Our thoughts and prayers are with everyone affected by this tragedy,” he said.
The Navy stated that VFA-94, Carrier Air Wing 17, and USS Carl Vinson will hold a memorial service on board USS Carl Vinson to honor the life and service of Lt. Poloski at a date and time to be determined. The incident is being investigated, as a cause has not yet been determined.
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Photo: U.S. Navy