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T-38 crash claims Class of 2000 grad's life

A T-38 Talon, like the one landing on an Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., runway April 10, crashed May 21 about nine miles north of the base. The aircraft and its two-person crew were on a flight-test training mission at the time of the accident. The T-38 is a twin-engine, high-altitude, supersonic jet trainer used in a variety of roles because of its design, economy of operations, ease of maintenance and high performance. (Air Force photo/Senior Airman Julius Delos Reyes)

A T-38 Talon, like the one landing on an Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., runway April 10, crashed May 21 about nine miles north of the base. The aircraft and its two-person crew were on a flight-test training mission at the time of the accident. The T-38 is a twin-engine, high-altitude, supersonic jet trainer used in a variety of roles because of its design, economy of operations, ease of maintenance and high performance. (Air Force photo/Senior Airman Julius Delos Reyes)

EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- An Air Force test pilot student and Class of 2000 U.S. Air Force Academy graduate died May 21 when his jet trainer crashed north of Edwards Air Force Base.

Capt. Mark Graziano, 30, died when the T-38A he was piloting crashed approximately nine miles north of Edwards AFB, near California City. Captain Graziano was assigned to the U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School at Edwards, where he was undergoing training to become a test pilot.

His crew member, Maj. Lee Jones, was injured upon ejecting from the aircraft. He was transported to Kern Medical Center in Bakersfield, where he is listed in stable condition. Jones, a senior navigator, is also assigned to the USAF Test Pilot School, undergoing test navigator training.

"We are shocked and saddened by this sudden loss and our hearts and prayers go out to Mark's family and loved ones," said Col. Terry Luallen, commandant of the U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School. "We are doing all we can to support Mark's family during this trying time."

At approximately 1:15 p.m. Edwards AFB was notified that a TPS aircraft had gone down near California City. Emergency responders from the base and Kern County arrived at the scene where they found Jones near the crash site, and transported him to Kern Medical Center. Captain Graziano was pronounced dead at the scene.

A board of officers is investigating the accident. Base officials stressed that the accident site may have contained hazardous materials released from the crash, and asked that individuals refrain from entering the area until the investigation has been completed, and debris removed from the scene.