Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Dassault Mirage F1M, N567EM: Fatal accident May 24, 2021 near Nellis Air Force Base (KLSV), Las Vegas, Nevada

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed.

Additional Participating Entities:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Las Vegas, Nevada
Draken International; Las Vegas, Nevada  

Location: Las Vegas, NV
Accident Number: WPR21FA203
Date & Time: May 24, 2021, 14:17 Local
Registration: N567EM
Injuries: 1 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Public aircraft

On May 24, 2021, about 1417 Pacific daylight time, an experimental Dassault Aviation Mirage F-1 Turbo-jet, N567EM, was destroyed when it was involved in an accident near Nellis Air Force Base, (LSV), Las Vegas, Nevada. The pilot was fatally injured. The airplane was operated as a public-use aircraft in support of the United States Air Force’s simulated combat training.

According to the pilot of the number 2 airplane in the formation, the accident airplane was the lead of a flight of two aggressors, which returned to LSV after completion of their Weapons School support flights in the Nevada Test and Tactics Range. The number 2 airplane in the formation recovered before the lead airplane since it reached its briefed fuel status first. About 15 minutes later, the lead airplane recovered single ship. While enroute to LSV and about several minutes out, the lead pilot reported that the airplane was “code 1,” signifying that the airplane had no maintenance discrepancies.

The lead airplane entered the traffic pattern and reported initial for runway 03R. Shortly after the break, and approaching the final turn, the pilot reported that he would be accomplishing a low approach and then proceeding to Flex (LSV 338/04). The pilot started the final turn and then reported that he had a flap issue and when asked if he was declaring an emergency, he responded “affirm.” Shortly thereafter, while still in the final turn, the airplane descended, and the pilot ejected. Subsequently, the airplane stuck terrain in a residential area about 1 1/2 miles south of the approach end of the runway. The wreckage was consumed by a post-crash fire.

A witness reported that he observed the airplane low in the pattern and sinking like it was “falling out of the sky.” Subsequently, he observed the pilot eject.

The airplane was recovered to a secure facility for further examination.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Registration: N567EM
Model/Series: MIRAGE F-1 
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Amateur Built: No
Operator: On file
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None
Operator Designator Code:

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: VMC
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: KLSV,1870 ft msl
Observation Time: 14:32 Local
Distance from Accident Site: 3 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 28°C /-4°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: / ,
Lowest Ceiling: 
Visibility: 10 miles
Altimeter Setting: 30.01 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed: Military VFR
Departure Point: Las Vegas, NV
Destination: Las Vegas, NV

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal 
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Passenger Injuries:
Aircraft Fire: On-ground
Ground Injuries: 
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Fatal
Latitude, Longitude: 36.200883,-115.05419 (est)

Those who may have information that might be relevant to the National Transportation Safety Board investigation may contact them by email, and any friends and family who want to contact investigators about the accident should email

Nicholas Hunter Hamilton
MARCH 23, 1978 – MAY 24, 2021

On the early afternoon of 24 May, Nicholas Hunter Hamilton, “Nick” to his family and “Scooter” to his military family, was lost in a tragic accident near Nellis AFB NV. There are never adequate words to express the depth of loss we feel with his passing, but it’s our hope that these few words might shed a little light into the incredible husband, father, son, brother and friend that Nick was.

Nick was born in Reno, Nevada to Gail and Stephen Hamilton. The second of three children and the only son, he was a blessing and a gift. Nick was a steadfast and loyal brother and would have done anything for his sisters. He was a brilliant and charismatic child, making many life-long friends. This gift of learning and charisma carried through into his adult years.

Nick held a third degree black belt in Taekwondo and was an accomplished violinist. He was a graduate of the USAF Academy, where he earned a degree in Astronautical Engineering. He continued that pursuit of knowledge at George Washington University where he attended on a NASA scholarship, and earned a Master’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering.

Nick was a gifted pilot. He had over 2500 hours flying supersonic aircraft that included the T-38, F-16, and most recently, the Mirage F-1. He served several combat tours, and his 20-year career took him across the globe, including Del Rio, TX, Misawa, Japan, and Kunsan Korea. Korea was an especially good deal for him, as it is where he met the love of his life, Suhyun An. He would finish his career as an elite member of the 64th Aggressor Squadron where his colleagues were quick to learn of his enormous brain, and love of flying.

There wasn’t a person more willing to help someone out, than Nick. He had a sarcastic wit that melded well into any conversation. He would often joke around with a dry sense of humor that was only second to his infectious smile.

While he was an incredible friend and pilot, the title he cherished most was that of husband and father. Nick leaves behind his wife, Suhyun, and two sons, Odin and Ashur. Odin is 15, and a gentle giant who loves playing hockey. Odin has autism, and certainly is dealing with the loss of his dad in a way none of us can quite understand. Ashur, like his dad, is wicked smart. He also plays the violin and loves a variety of sports. Ashur is only 11 years old.

Words can not express our loss. We will all miss Nick. It still feels surreal that he is gone. His legacy will live on. He is a true Hero, the kind most only get to read about in stories. We are all so blessed to have had Nick in our lives, if only for such a short time.

Nick is survived by his Wife, Suhyun An, two sons, Odin and Ashur, mother Gail, father Stephen (Donna), two sisters, Heather (Aaron) and Alexandra (Adam), a niece and nephews, Greta, Benjamin, and August, a large extended and military family, and close friends.

In leu of flowers or gifts, the family requests that donations be made in Honor of Nick’s Memory and in support of his family to the Fallen Wings Foundation,

Nick Hamilton, left, with his two sons. Hamilton, 43, died on May 24, 2021 after taking off in in DassaultMirage F1M from Nellis Air Force Base and crashing in a Las Vegas residential area. 

LAS VEGAS — Nicholas Hunter Hamilton was a man of few words who wielded an infectious laugh that could light up a room.

That's how family remembers the jet fighter pilot and Reno native who died Monday after taking off from Nellis Air Force Base and crashing in a Las Vegas neighborhood.

"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."

The Clark County Medical Examiner on Tuesday identified Hamilton as the lone pilot in the contractor aircraft that crashed around 2:30 p.m. Monday near Christy Lane, south of the air base. He was 43.

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.

Born and raised in Reno, 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."

Investigation begins into crash

Military and federal authorities said Tuesday they were probing the cause of a Dassault Mirage F1M crash that killed the civilian pilot but did not injure anyone on the ground. 

The Dassault Mirage F1M that crashed Monday afternoon was owned and operated by a Draken US. Hamilton was the only person aboard the French aircraft, which records show was built in 1982.

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the people and families affected by this event,” the company said a statement.

Police closed off the area about 7 miles northeast of downtown Las Vegas, while some news crews reported that an aircraft had crashed.

Neighbors posted online images of a plume of smoke not far from a fence to the base, fire crews arriving and a helicopter circling the area.

Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak commented on the incident on Twitter Monday.

"Kathy and I are praying for all those involved in today's incident — especially the men and women of [Nellis Air Force Base] and the first responders on the scene," he wrote. 

The incident is under investigation, according to Nellis authorities. 

Nellis known for training exercises 

Nellis is best known internationally as host of periodic training exercises where U.S. and allied pilots conduct mock battles over a restricted military reserve in central Nevada that is half the size of the state of New Jersey. 

Aircraft based at Nellis include F-16 Falcon and F-22 Raptor fighter jets and A-10 Warthog attack jets. The base also is home to the elite Thunderbirds flight demonstration team.

The crash was the first out of Nellis since Thunderbirds pilot Maj. Stephen Del Bango of Valencia, California, died in April 2018 during a training flight over the Nevada Test and Training Range. In September 2017, an Air Force pilot died after a crash about 100 miles (160.93 kilometers) northwest of Nellis.


  1. Oh no. That's so tragic. I was following a pair of F1s on ADSBEX about a month ago just randomly looking around in the Florida panhandle near Panama City. They were playing around with Air Force fighters that were not showing up identified (obvious reasons) which I assume were F-35s out of Eglin AFB to the west near Fort Walton Beach or possibly F-22s out of Tyndall AFB near Panama City. No matter how much experience you have in fighters both active and contracted like this, the risk never goes away. RIP patriot and so terribly sorry for the family's loss and loss for those who knew him.

    1. Do military aircraft not transmit ADS-B??? I can understand Air Force One going dark, but why military aircraft on training missions???

  2. He protected our country for 20 years and gave his life in the service of training others to do the same. My undying gratitude, prayers and respect to you and your family sir. RIP sky warrior .. :(

  3. He could have ejected, but he wouldn’t because a school was in the aircrafts path. He died a hero.

    1. I doubt that's the case, unless the pilot specifically made that as a radio call. You know that for sure? We were taught, "If there is no doubt, get out!"

    2. Yes, I know it for sure. He did make that call. Your doubt makes no difference to the truth. Nick died a hero.

    3. to CC: Source? Add me to the doubtful list, it's rubbish. Been reading all about it and no mention, of course.

    4. I frankly don't give a rat's ass if you're doubtful, and find your assertion that it's "rubbish" to be condescending and rude. If you've been reading "all about it," then you know that the news stories are all the exact same (as in word for word) and that none of them cite any of the details regarding cause or radio contact. The details have not all been made public, in fact many are still unknown, and to think that you have all the information in the first week of perusing news stories is naive. My source? This is family, thank you for your concern.
      The details will come out when they come out, though you'll likely be long past this story and on to the next. For now, here's a heartbreaking interview that touches on Nick's heroism:

    5. I reiterate - unless we all KNOW that he made a radio call that he was delaying ejection to avoid a school or (fill in the blank) place, it is pure conjecture that he died a hero in doing so. In no way does this take away that he was obviously loved as a husband, father, and son. I have a combined 3000 hours in the F-14 and A-4, I have done Red Flag at Nellis, and I never thought of myself as a hero. Maybe to my wife and kids and family, but I merely thought I was blessed to fly such aircraft.

      I sadly note the death of a fellow fighter pilot. I have had the opportunity to "fight" the F1 and other French jets - lots of fun, and I'm sure he was having a ball.

      Let's await the preliminary info from the USAF folks. Meanwhile, the typical press releases will have all sorts of conjecture and dynamic misfiring of reporting malfeasance that they call "news." The days and weeks following aircraft crashes are often characterized with dynamic swings of "facts."

    6. Googling around, I saw one house security video that showed the jet crash. The fidelity is not bad, the airplane can be clearly seen with a flight trajectory of about 25 to 30 degrees downward. About three or four seconds before impact, just above the horizon, a white puff of smoke can be seen, perhaps an ejection attempt? The video is not clear enough to show the ejection, if it occurred, very well. No chute is visible, and then impact occurs, followed by the rising column of black smoke. One news site had a Twitter feed that said a parachute was nearby on the ground, so if that is correct, he may have delayed ejection too late to survive. I can't find any news at all that states whether or not he ejected.

    7. Odd that he could make the radio call and steer the aircraft away from a school as he had ejected while turning final. Final approach is at the near end of the runway where the aircraft is landing. The aircraft continued flying over the runway and crashed more than a mile from the airport. The aircraft had no pilot from where the pilot ejected to the site of impact.

      Read the 3rd paragraph where the other pilot described what happened.

      "Shortly thereafter, while still in the final turn, the airplane descended, and the pilot ejected. Subsequently, the airplane stuck terrain in a residential area about 1 1/2 miles south of the approach end of the runway."

  4. I spent two tours at Tyndall during the 70's starting with the Weapons Controller School and then the BUIC 3 site across the street. (T-33, F-106, F-101 and F-4) The same always applied even though the aircraft were much older. The young brave lives that could have been.

  5. CC - You need better reports. Guess what? He ejected as any other highly trained professional would've done. Unfortunately he was in an unrecoverable position. Your statement was rubbish indeed.

  6. Scooter was a great coworker and awesome pilot. It was fun launching him and hearing his combat stories and victories during Red Flags. We are still sad about losing Scooter it hit us hard.

  7. As a prior airframe mechanic at Draken, I can definitely say this organization should be shut down by the FAA. It truly is the definition of toxic safety culture and cheap unairworthy repair and overhaul. The flap actuators are rebuilt by Draken in Lakeland, FL using any old O rings they can find at any local parts store because Dassault will not support these old aircraft any longer. Mechanics are truly in fear of stepping up and saying anything or reporting in fear of their job. If the FAA doesn't step in, more or these tragic accidents are bound to happen. My condolences to the family of this young brave pilot.