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Air Force identifies pilot killed in F-16 crash

Air Force identifies pilot killed in F-16 crash
The Air Force confirmed that Lt. David Schmitz was killed in an F-16 crash at Shaw Air Force Base in South Carolina this week. Photo via Laughlin Air Force Base/Facebook

July 2 (UPI) -- The Air Force has identified the pilot who died at Shaw Air Force Base in South Carolina on Tuesday as 1st Lt. David Schmitz of the 77th Fighter Squadron.

Schmitz died when an F-16CM fighter plane crashed during a routine training mission at Shaw.

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"Dave loved a lot of things. He loved his family, his country and he loved to fly," said Col. Larry Sullivan, commander of the 20th Fighter Wing at the Air Force base in a video announcement posted to Facebook.

Sullivan said Schmitz died conducting a training sortie in South Carolina as his squadron, the 77th 'Gamblers,' prepared to deploy overseas.

According to Sullivan, Schmitz earned his pilot's license at 17 and then enrolled in the Air Force, serving as a loadmaster on the C-17 cargo plane. He then pursued pilot training and earned a spot flying F-16s at the 77th.

The Air Force has not released information about the cause of the cause of the crash, which is the third plane crash for that branch in the past six weeks.

On May 15 an F-22 Raptor plane crashed at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida, and an F-35 Lightning II -- also at Eglin -- crashed May 20.

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In those cases, the pilot ejected safely.

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