SALT LAKE CITY, June 23 (UPI) -- A U.S. Air Force pilot was killed when his F-16 crashed on a training mission in western Utah, his family confirmed Tuesday.
Capt. George Bryan Houghton, 28, of Candler, N.C., was on a routine training mission Monday night when the warplane crashed in Utah's Western Desert, WLOS-TV, Ashville, N.C., reported. He was first reported missing Tuesday.
Houghton's father, also named George, told the ABC affiliate his son had a "great sense of love and family," and he "will be sorely missed, not only by his family, but by anybody he's ever been around or anybody that ever knew him," the Deseret News in Salt Lake City reported.
A spokesman for the 75th Air Base Wing said the crash site was 35 miles south of Wendover, the Deseret News said. Houghton was a member of the 421st Fighter Squadron and part of a close-air support missing training for upcoming combat, the Air Force said.
"We lost an irreplaceable member of the Air Force team," Col. Scott Dennis, commander of the 388th Fighter Wing, said at a news conference Tuesday afternoon.
The cause of the crash was unknown and was to be investigated by military officials.
A statement from Hill Air Force Base in northern Utah, which had conducted the search for the missing aircraft and pilot, said the 388th Range Squadron runs the desert training area to give pilots "a realistic training environment."
The base's Web site describes the range as "the largest overland safety footprint available in the Department of Defense for air crew and weapons testing," the Salt Lake Tribune in Salt Lake City reported.
The Deseret News said the terrain of the range resembles Afghanistan and pilots can train by strafing targets.