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Air Force A-10 Jet Crashes in Desert

December 9, 1988

TRACY, Ariz. (AP) _ An Air Force A-10 fighter crashed Thursday afternoon near the heart of the Tohono O’Odham Indian Reservation, but the pilot ejected safely, officials said.

The plane, based at at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, crashed around 3:30 p.m. about 80 miles west of Tucson. The pilot, identified as Capt. Michael Nutterfield, 29, of Hutchinson, Kan., was admitted to the base hospital, said spokeswoman Carol Ann Keck.

Another A-10 crashed Thursday into an apartment house in Remscheid, Germany, killing at least four people.

Despite the coincidence of the accidents, Ms. Keck said the Air Force would not ground the base’s A-10s. The Tactical Air Command late Thursday released a statement saying that the aircraft would not be grounded.

″I can tell you from this standpoint, we’re not tying the two of them together,″ said the civilian spokeswoman.

Officials said an investigative board left for the reservation, whose residents have complained for years about low-flying military aircraft.

The pilot was the only occupant of the single-passenger jet, a unit of the 23rd Tactical Support Group, Capt. Mark Besich said. He said the aircraft was on a training mission.

Ms. Keck said the jet crashed near the town of Tracy, about 20 miles northwest of the tribal capital of Sells.

Reservation residents have complained for years about low-altitude flights from the Tucson base, which flies many training missions over sparsely populated southwestern Arizona.

No one answered the telephone in Tohono O’Odham tribal offices in several attempts to reach the tribe for comment.

Update hourly