Gearhead News

May 25, 2021
Aircraft Associated With Nellis Air Force Base Has Crashed In Las Vegas (Updated)

Details are still coming in, but a plane associated in some way with Nellis Air Force Base has crashed. The type of aircraft involved, the status of any individuals on board the aircraft, and what damage, or worse, the aircraft may have caused when it slammed into the ground, are unknown at this time.

A post from the base’s official Twitter account has confirmed an “incident involving an aircraft associated with Nellis Air Force Base,” but offered no additional details. The War Zone has already reached out to Nellis for more information about this incident. Reports of a possible crash near Nellis first began to emerge just before 2:30 local time.

KVVU-TV, a local Fox affiliate in Las Vegas, said that the Clark County Fire Department responded to a reported plane crash at 2245 N. Christy Lane. This address is in a residential area less than three miles southwest of Nellis. 

At the time of writing, online flight tracking data available through ADS-B Exchange shows a Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department Hughes 530 helicopter orbiting the reported area of the crash and subsequent fire. Other data showed that a Department of Energy Bell 412 helicopter had been flying in the same area following the reported crash, before returning to Nellis, and may have been one of the first aircraft on the scene.

ADS-B Exchange
A screen shot from ADS-B Exchange showing a Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department Hughes 530 helicopter, with the US civil registration code N530JL, flying in an orbit over the reported crash site in Las Vegas to the southwest of Nellis Air Force Base as of around 3:00 PM local time.

ADS-B Exchange
Earlier flight tracking data showing, in orange, a route flown by a Department of Energy Bell 412 helicopter, with the US civil registration code N411DE, that took it over the reported crash site. 

Bryan Herbert, a former photojournalist for ONSCENE.TV and the Ridgecrest Daily Independent wrote on Twitter that “heavy black smoke and a parachute [were] seen” and subsequent Tweeted out that the aircraft involved may have been a Mirage F1M belonging to private contractor Draken International that had been using the callsign Sniper 01, but this remains unconfirmed. In a separate Tweet, he also said personnel from Nellis, the Clark County Fire Department, and Las Vegas Metropolitan Police were still looking for the pilot.

Draken, which provides “red air” adversary support to the U.S. Air Force, among others, began flying its ex-Spanish Air Force Mirage F1Ms out of Nellis last year

We will continue to update this story as more information becomes available.


Officials at Nellis Air Force Base have now confirmed that a contractor-operated aircraft crashed just outside of the base’s southern perimeter, but have still not yet said what the type of aircraft was or what contractor was operating it at the time. “Multiple federal and local first responders are on scene,” a Tweet from the base’s official account said. “The incident is under investigation.”

Separately, Las Vegas’ KLAS-TV, a CBS affiliate, has reported that the Clark County Fire Department has confirmed that the pilot onboard the aircraft at the time of the incident has died.

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