Pilot identified in Cherry Point plane crash

HAVELOCK Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point spokesman Mike Barton said the pilot of the AV-8B Harrier was Capt. Alberto N. Bencosme.

The fighter went down near the base in Craven County Monday afternoon.

Officials say Bencosme was returning back to base shortly after takeoff because a cockpit caution light came on, indicating that aircraft canopy latches may not have been secured.

The Marines say Bencosme was a member of Marine Attack Training Squadron 203, based at Cherry Point.

Barton said the Harrier crashed in woods near one of the base's two runways, not far from a terminal for a state Department of Transportation ferry that crosses the Neuse River. The area is unpopulated, and no one on the ground was hurt.

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The Harrier is a "jump jet" aircraft, capable of vertical takeoffs and landings that is used by the Marine Corps and the British Military.

Click here to learn more about the Harrier from Wikipedia

Investigators are now trying to figure out why the plane went down. Two hunters in the area said they heard strange engine noises coming from the plane before it crashed, but the military has not confirmed if the aircraft was having engine problems.

Officials say the cause of the crash is still under investigation.

This is the second crash of a Harrier near the base this year. One crashed in February, but the pilot was not hurt in that incident. Another Marine jet of a different type crashed in a San Diego neighborhood last month killing four people on the ground.

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