Investigation into downed Hornet could take months

By Derrick Perkins, Staff writer

Determining what caused a Marine F/A-18 Hornet to plunge from the sky over Georgia this weekend could take “many months,” according to officials investigating the crash.

The fighter-attack jet, with Marine All Weather Fighter Attack Squadron 224, went down near Statenville, Georgia, at 2:53 p.m. on Sunday. Its pilot, Maj. Roy Nicka, and weapons systems officer, 1st Lt. Robert Reynolds, ejected and suffered just minor injuries, said Michael Barton, a spokesman for 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing.

They received treatment at South Georgia Medical Center in Valdosta. No one on the ground was injured, authorities said.

Officials said Nicka and Reynolds, who are based out of Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, South Carolina, were engaged in low-altitude tactics training when the aircraft went down. The incident, which Barton described repeatedly as a “mishap,” occurred in the military operations area of Moody Air Force Base.

Authorities from that facility secured the crash site, while a team from 2nd MAW assembled for recovery operations. The jet went down in wooded and swampy terrain, officials said.

As authorities investigate, they urge witnesses to contact the Marine Air Wing’s public affairs office at 252-466-4241 or

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