Update: Searchers Seek Missing F-15C Pilot

Update: (8/29/2014)

National Guard Bureau News Release

BARNES AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Mass., Aug. 28, 2014 – The search in Virginia for a missing 104th Fighter Wing pilot expanded today with Air Force resources.

An F-15C Eagle aircraft assigned to the Massachusetts Air National Guard’s 104th Fighter Wing here crashed in Deerfield, Virginia, at about 9:05 a.m. yesterday, about five minutes after radio contact with the pilot was lost.

Since yesterday morning, a search-and-rescue operation in the Washington National Forest area near Deerfield Valley in Virginia has been ongoing. The search efforts now include a specially equipped HC-130 aircraft assigned to Moody Air Force Base in Georgia that has specialized equipment designed for low-light/night-time search and rescue operations. The HC-130 has been conducting air operations since 3 a.m.

Additionally, as many as seven helicopters have been conducting aerial night searches.

Throughout yesterday, at least 100 state police, sheriff’s deputies and fire-and-rescue personnel have been on scene. The ground search slowed overnight due to the dangerous terrain around the crash site. Approximately 10 search-and-rescue teams were on the ground searching along logging roads, fire trails and forest roads. The terrain is too treacherous for off-road ground searches in the dark, according to Corinne Geller, a spokeswoman for Virginia State Police.

The search for the missing pilot and the investigation into the crash are ongoing.

Virginia Army National Guard aviators assisted with aerial search-and-rescue efforts with Lakota and Black Hawk helicopters, soldiers and airmen from the Fort Pickett, Virginia-based 34th Civil Support Team provided communications and incident management assistance and additional Guard personnel coordinated the overall aviation operation.

The pilot flying the F-15C made a report of an inflight emergency prior to radio contact being lost. The F-15C aircraft was en route to receive a system upgrade and there were no munitions on the aircraft during this cross-country trip.

(8/27/2014) Air Force F-15C jet crashes in western Virginia

A Massachusetts-based Air Force jet crashed in a forest in Virginia Wednesday morning during a standard training exercise, authorities said.

Augusta County Sheriff’s Office dispatcher Becky Coyner said the pilot was the only person aboard the F-15C when it went down in Deerfield, a town roughly 135 miles northwest of Richmond.

Jean Sepulveda, spokesperson for the sheriff’s office, told the Daily News that an alert through the pilot’s equipment shows that he ejected himself from the aircraft before it crashed.

His condition is not known.

“Washington called and reported that they lost contact with an F-15C fighter jet,” Coyner told The News. “The Army is on its way.”

The plane was reportedly with the 104th Fighter Wing unit of the Massachusetts Air National Guard, based at the Barnes Air National Guard Base in Westfield.

F-15s are tactical fighters that weigh 31,700 pounds and can reach up to 1,875 mph. The F-15C costs $29.9 million, according to the Air Force website.

“He was flying from Massachusetts to we believe New Orleans,” Sepulveda said.

Witnesses heard a loud noise that sounded like an explosion just before 9 a.m. and alerted the authorities shortly after.

Officials from the state and local police found the crash site after spotting a thick plume of smoke rising from the side of a mountain.

The National Transportation Safety Board and Federal Aviation Administration said they are not involved in the investigation when contacted by The News.

The U.S. Air Force was not immediately available for comment.



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