Rainbow Canyon F/A-18 crash findings begin to circulate

Rainbow Canyon F/A-18 crash findings begin to circulateThe Navy’s report of a fatal F/A-18 accident last year has begun to circulate in military publications. On July 31, Lt. Cmdr. Charles Walker from Lemoore was flying an F/A-18 Super Hornet through Rainbow Canyon (in Saline Valley near Crowley Point Lookout) when his aircraft crashed. Walker was killed, and the resulting explosion injured seven French tourists near the canyon. Walker was a highly accomplished pilot who was mourned by family and colleagues at his home squadron and beyond. A reporter from the Navy Times procured a copy of the accident report, and published the findings May 23. This reporter requested a copy of the report, but Navy officials said that it could only be obtained by filing a formal Freedom of Information Act request. As requests from other journalists began to pile up, an insider reported that the finding might be posted online sooner than FOIA requests could be filled. At press time, nothing was available to the public. Pilots from China Lake and other nearby military installations regularly use Rainbow Canyon for low-flying training exercises. This is the first death reported at the site. Also dubbed “Star Wars Canyon,” the location has become a popular attraction for global tourists. — Courtesy photos

Story First Published: 2020-05-29