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F-22 crash claims life of Edwards pilot

An F-22 Raptor, like the one shown in this file photo, has crashed north of Edwards Air Force Base, Calif.  The aircraft was on a training mission at the time of the accident.  (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Rachel A. Kocin)

An F-22 Raptor, like the one shown in this file photo, has crashed north of Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. The aircraft was on a training mission at the time of the accident. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Rachel A. Kocin)

EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- An Air Force F-22 Raptor crash March 25 near here claimed the life of an Air Force veteran and Lockheed Martin test pilot.

David Cooley, 49, of Palmdale, Calif., died when the F-22 he was piloting crashed northeast of the base here.

Mr. Cooley worked as a test pilot with Lockheed Martin, and was employed at the 411th Flight Test Squadron an Edwards Air Force Base.

Mr. Cooley joined Lockheed Martin in 2003 and was a 21-year veteran of the Air Force. He worked at the F-22 Combined Test Force, where a team of Lockheed Martin and Air Force pilots conduct F-22 aircraft testing.

"This is a very difficult day for Edwards and those who knew and respected Dave as a warrior, test pilot and friend," said Maj. Gen. David J. Eichhorn, the Air Force Flight Test Center commander. "Our thoughts and prayers are with Dave and his family as we struggle through, and do all we can to support them."

Edwards AFB officials said they were notified around 10 a.m. that the F-22 had gone down 35 miles northeast of the base. First responders transported Mr. Cooley from the crash scene to Victor Valley Community Hospital in Victorville, Calif., where he was pronounced dead.

A board of officers is investigating the accident through an Accident Investigation Board, whose findings will be released to the public upon completion.