MA Air National Guard Pilot Killed In Crash

By: NBC News
By: NBC News

Military officials confirmed Thursday the pilot of an F-15 jet that crashed in a remote area of western Virginia was killed.

Search crews used helicopters to comb the mountainous area around the crash site, and Humvees and horses searched the rugged terrain looking for the pilot.

The fighter jet, out of Massachusetts, was on a routine maintenance mission to New Orleans when it went down Wednesday.

The single-seat aircraft was part of the 104th Fighter Wing of the Massachusetts Air National Guard.

The pilot reported an inflight emergency before losing radio contact. Thursday night it was confirmed he was not able to eject.

The Air National Guard now says the pilot died in the crash.

"This is a devastating day for the family of our deceased pilot and the members of the 104th fighter wing and the entire F-15 community," said Colonel James Keefe of the 104th Fighter Wing Commander. "These tragedies remind us of the risks that our brave men and women take every day."

The name of the pilot is being withheld until his family members are notified.


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A Virginia State Police spokeswoman says rescuers will resume searching for a pilot who went missing after an F-15 fighter jet crashed in a remote, heavily wooded area of western Virginia.

Spokeswoman Corinne Geller says Thursday that the search will resume at 8 a.m. for the missing pilot.

She says the search had been suspended at midnight. More than 100 people and several helicopters searched throughout the day Wednesday.

Officials haven't yet said what caused the crash or whether the pilot ejected. The crash occurred around 9 a.m. Wednesday and several local residents reported hearing three loud booms.

Officials say the pilot and jet are with the 104th Fighter Wing of the Massachusetts Air National Guard.

(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. )


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An Air Force fighter jet based in Massachusetts crashed in the mountains of western Virginia on Wednesday, shaking the ground and frightening residents, and officials said the pilot's fate was unknown.

No injuries were reported on the ground as authorities located the crash site through heavy smoke on a mountainside.

The pilot of the single-seat F-15C was with the 104th Fighter Wing of the Massachusetts Air National Guard in Westfield, Maj. Matthew Mutti said.

The jet was on a standard training exercise to receive a system upgrade and had no munition onboard, said Mutti, from Barnes Air National Guard Base. He didn't say where the jet was headed or release the pilot's name.

The pilot made a report of an inflight emergency, then lost radio contact, officials said.

"Information on this incident is developing rapidly, and we are not going to speculate on what occurred or the status of the pilot," Col James Keefe, 104th Fighter Wing Commander, said in a statement. "We are hopeful that the pilot is OK, and the pilot will be in our thoughts and prayers."

Witnesses reported an explosion-like noise just before 9 a.m., according to Augusta County dispatcher Becky Coynter.

"It's the loudest noise I've ever heard," 63-year-old Rebecca Shinaberry, who lives on a farm about two miles away, told The Associated Press. "(It) just shook the ground, and from my house we could just see a big plume of smoke."

Deerfield is about 135 miles northwest of Richmond.

F-15s are maneuverable tactical fighters that can reach speeds up to 1,875 mph, according to the Air Force website. The F-15C Eagle entered the Air Force inventory in 1979 and costs nearly $30 million, the website says. The Air Force has nearly 250 of them.

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Military officials say the jet that crashed in western Virginia was an Air Force F-15C based in Massachusetts, and the pilot's status is unknown.

Pentagon spokesman Air Force Lt. Col. Tom Crosson says the pilot of the single-seat aircraft was with the 104th Fighter Wing of the Massachusetts Air National Guard.

Guard spokesman Maj. Matthew Mutti says the jet was on a standard training exercise Wednesday with no munition onboard. He didn't say where it was headed or release the pilot's name.

Augusta County dispatcher Becky Coynter says witnesses reported an explosion-like noise just before 9 a.m. She says military officials in Washington reporting losing communication with a jet.

Police say they located a crash site in Deerfield, about 135 miles northwest of Richmond, with smoke coming from a mountainside. No injuries are reported on the ground.

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A sheriff's dispatcher says officials believe a military jet has crashed in western Virginia, but there is no word on the condition of those on board.

Augusta County Sheriff's Office dispatcher Becky Coynter says witnesses reported hearing a loud noise that sounded like an explosion just before 9 a.m. Wednesday.

Coynter says military officials in Washington told local authorities that communication with a military jet had been lost.

A news release from state police says officials located a crash site in Deerfield, with heavy smoke coming from the side of a mountain. The statement says state and local police are trying to reach the site.

State police say no injuries on the ground have been reported. Police didn't offer other details.

Deerfield is about 135 miles northwest of Richmond.


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