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Jet crashes in southern California, killing pilot

(CBS/AP) CAMARILLO, Calif. - A civilian training jet on contract to the military crashed in southern California on Friday, killing the pilot, authorities said.

The Hawker Hunter jet trainer had taken off from Naval Base Ventura County and crashed at about 12:15 p.m. near the base, in Oxnard, Ventura County fire department spokesman Steve Swindle said. The pilot was the only person aboard. According to CBS station KCAL in Los Angeles, the plane was on its way to Point Mugu Naval Air Station.

Fire Department spokesman Steve Swindle said the plane was a high-performance military-style aircraft on lease from a private company. The jet was registered to Airborne Tactical Advantage Company, a contracted company that provided adversary support for fleet exercises in California, KCAL said. It was not a military plane, but a civilian plane contracted to the Navy.

It took off from the base on a training sortie with another aircraft and went down as it was returning, about two miles from the runway in the middle of a farm field.

"He was on final approach. He went down," Swindle said.

The farm field where the plane crashed is between Point Mugu State Park, Camarillo Airport, and the Naval base, some 50 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles.

There were no injuries on the ground and no reports of a fire, Swindle said. He did not yet know the extent of the damage.

The cause of the crash was not immediately known. Swindle said the sky was "bright and crystal clear."

Naval and fire personnel were on the scene at the crash and investigators from the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board were on their way.

An FAA spokesman referred all questions to the military, and a phone message left for a Navy spokesman was not immediately returned.

The name and age of the pilot were not known. KCAL reported that the pilot was a former Navy serviceman.

The crash occurred on the first anniversary of the crash of a commercial aerial refueling tanker during takeoff from the Ventura base's air station at Point Mugu. All three crewmembers escaped on May 18, 2011, before fire destroyed the Boeing 707 registered to Omega Air Inc. of San Antonio, Texas.