Who was Nicholas Hunter Hamilton? Nevada pilot, 43, killed after military jet crashes in Las Vegas

Pilot Nicholas Hunter Hamilton, a Reno native, died of blunt force injuries from the crash and his death was ruled as an accident

                            Who was Nicholas Hunter Hamilton? Nevada pilot, 43, killed after military jet crashes in Las Vegas
Nevada's Nellis Air Force Base is investigating the death of pilot Nicholas Hunter Hamilton after his jet crashed in Las Vegas (Fox 5/Youtube)

The Clark County Coroner's office on Tuesday, May 25, identified the pilot killed when a military jet crashed in a neighborhood near Nellis Air Force Base on Monday, May 24. According to the coroner's office, the pilot was identified as Nicholas Hunter Hamilton, 43, of Reno, Nevada. Military and federal authorities stated on Tuesday, May 25 that they were probing the cause of the crash that did not injure anyone on the ground.

Hamilton was the only one who was on board, which records show was built in 1982. He died of blunt force injuries, the office said and his death was ruled as an accident. "Our thoughts and prayers are with Mr. Hamilton’s family & friends at this difficult time," Clark County said in a social media post.




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Who was Nicholas Hunter Hamilton?

Nicholas Hunter Hamilton's family remembers him as a man of few words who wielded an infectious laugh that could light up a room. The death of the jet fighter pilot and Reno native who died after taking off from Nellis Air Force Base and crashed in a Las Vegas neighborhood has cast a pall of gloom. "Nick was a devoted, kind husband, father, son, and brother," said Aaron Damon, a family spokesman, in a statement. "His death has left a large void in our lives, and we are all shocked and heartbroken."

According to the Reno Gazette Journal, Hamilton graduated from the Air Force Academy in 2000 and became a fighter pilot for the Air Force, serving for 20 years — a career that included multiple tours in Afghanistan and Iraq. He retired from the Air Force in March 2020 to fly privately for Draken International, a Florida company contracted to provide “adversary air support” during aerial war games flown from Nellis into restricted airspace over central Nevada.

Hamilton earned a master’s degree in astronautical engineering from George Washington University and a 3rd-degree black belt in taekwondo. He was also an accomplished violinist. 

Hamilton leaves behind his wife and their two young sons, as well as his father, mother, two sisters, a large extended family, and many friends. "His dedication to his family and his country will never be forgotten," the family statement said.  "Words cannot express our loss. A nickel on the grass. We need time to mourn this great loss and appreciate the respect given to our privacy in this tragic time."

The crash that took Nicholas Hunter Hamilton's life 

The crash was reported at 2245 N. Christy Lane, near Judson Avenue, at around 2:30 pm on May 24. Witnesses reported heavy smoke in the area following the crash. "We heard the jet. It was really loud and it just stopped. Classes outside saw it," said a school clerk with Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School.

The Dassault Mirage F-1 was owned and operated by a Florida-based Draken US. The National Transportation Safety Board will be working with military officials to investigate the case. Agency spokesman Eric Weiss stated that it was too early to report on a cause of the crash. Reports of preliminary findings will be released within two weeks, Weiss added, and findings and a final report could take up to two years.

Christina Childs, the Draken spokeswoman, said the company was cooperating with federal, state and local authorities including the NTSB. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to the people and families affected by this event,” the company said in a statement. “We train the next generation of fighter pilots which is a crucial aspect of our national security,” she added.

Roger Madec, a 22-year Air Force veteran who was stationed at Nellis at one point, says he knew something was wrong with this aircraft when it flew over his home. “That one didn’t sound good when it went over. It sounded like could have been an engine problem. Anything could have happened,” Madec said. “Like I said, being retired military, I know a lot of aircraft. I have been around a lot of airplanes,” he said. Madec said the crash was scary, and he knows it could have been much worse. He further said that he believes the pilot might have been trying to go for the nearby park to possibly avoid homes in the area.

The crash was the first out of Nellis since Thunderbirds pilot Major Stephen Del Bango of Valencia, California, lost his life in April 2018 during a training flight over the Nevada Test and Training Range.

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