Originally published May 6, 2009 at 7:10 a.m., updated May 6, 2009 at 9:26 a.m.
SAN DIEGO Two Marine pilots were killed when a Super Cobra military attack helicopter carrying live ordnance crashed in the East County, sparking a quickly extinguished one-acre brush fire, authorities said today.
The crash near Kitchen Creek Road and Interstate 8 occurred around 11:40 p.m. Tuesday but wasn't reported until around 3 a.m., according to Cal Fire.
Because the Marine AH-1W Super Cobra carried live ordnance, a wide perimeter was set up around the crash site, preventing firefighters from getting near the wreckage, a Cal Fire captain said.
The names and ranks of the two Marine pilots who died in the crash were withheld, pending family notification.
The chopper was based at Camp Pendleton but on loan to the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing based at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, according to broadcast reports. The pilots were training for an upcoming deployment and belonged to the Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 166, according to MCAS Miramar spokesman Maj. Jay Delarosa.
"These were Marines that were at the top of their game and were preparing for deployment overseas," Delarosa said. "It's a horrible loss."
The flight may have originated at La Posta Mountain Warfare Training Facility, which is located near the city of Campo. The center is used by the Naval Special Warfare Center.