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Navy Identifies Three Aviators Killed In Eastern Washington Jet Crash

Stan Dammel

The Navy has identified the three aviators who died in a military jet crash Monday in eastern Washington. The fiery crash 50 miles west of Spokane killed all three crew members on board.

Pilot Valerie Delaney of Maryland was 26 years old. Naval flight officer William McIlvaine of Texas was 24. And Alan Patterson from Tennessee, also a naval flight officer, was 34.

All three were based at the Naval Air Station on Whidbey Island. They were training to serve on an electronic attack squadron, which specializes in jamming enemy radar and communications. The team was flying fast and low over eastern Washington's wheat country when their EA-6B Prowler jet went down. 
A spokesman for the Navy says investigators are now at the scene looking into the cause of the crash. 

That spokesman says Delaney and McIlvaine were newer aviators, training up for their first assignment to an electronic attack team. 

Patterson had a lot of prior experience. He served in a squadron stationed in Japan from 2003 to 2006, and later became an instructor. He was refreshing his skills at Whidbey Island after at year at the Naval War College in Rhode Island.

Now semi-retired, Tom Banse covered national news, business, science, public policy, Olympic sports and human interest stories from across the Northwest. He reported from well known and out–of–the–way places in the region where important, amusing, touching, or outrageous events unfolded. Tom's stories can be found online and were heard on-air during "Morning Edition" and "All Things Considered" on NPR stations in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho.