Status of F-15C Pilot Still Unknown in Day Two of Search

By: WHSV Newsroom Email
By: WHSV Newsroom Email
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As of 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, the search for the missing  F-15C pilot is still ongoing.

Credit: Krista Snyder Johnson

Credit: Garrett Beck, 20, from Deerfield Va. This photo was taken at Marble Valley Farms.

DEERFIELD, Va. (WHSV) -- 6:25 p.m. UPDATE
The focus of the search has shifted to the southeast side of Crawford Mountain.

"The focus is looking for some type of sign, whether it's a parachute, or anything else that might indicate that the pilot was able to eject," said Ret. Maj. Cotton Puryear, a spokesperson with the Virginia National Guard.

"They're walking through whatever they're facing, whether it's flat, thick brush or vegetation, whatever. They're walking through, looking for clues. That's a standard method that's used for search and rescue, just to have a group of people walk along and look for any clues that they can report that will help with the effort," explained 1st. Lt. Greg Fletcher with the Virginia Wing of Civil Air Patrol.

The Department of Defense has taken the lead in the investigation, part of an effort that has grown even since Wednesday. Meanwhile crews continue to scour the search zone from the skies.

"These folks have got a lot of experience with doing this sort of thing, so we're hoping there's going to be some sort of visual signs that might lead us to something," said Puryear.

He also said they they'll keep looking until they either find the pilot or a reason to stop the search.

1:30 p.m. UPDATE

As the search continues, there are more than 100 state police, sheriff's deputies and fire and rescue personnel on scene. Approximately 10 search-and-rescue teams are on the ground searching along logging roads, fire trails and forest roads, according to Corinne Geller, the public relations manager for Virginia State Police.

Additionally the 104th Fighter Wing continues to provide support to its family during this event, standing up its Emergency Family Assistance Center as well as working with immediate family of the pilot. “Our priorities are to both assist in the search and rescue operations, but also provide support to the family of our pilot as well as the unit here at home,” said Col James Keefe, 104th Fighter Wing Commander.

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

5:30 a.m. UPDATE
Crews have expanded the search area for the pilot involved in the jet crash in Augusta County.

Search efforts now include a specially aircraft designed for low-light/night-time search and rescue operations. Seven helicopters are also now part of the search operations.

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1:30 a.m. UPDATE
According to leaders at Barnes Air National Guard Base, crews continue to search for the missing pilot involved in the f-15 jet crash in Augusta County Wednesday morning.

As of 11:15 Wednesday night, about 10 search and rescue teams were on the ground searching the remote area. Also four helicopters are part of the search, conducting aerial searches. other help in on the way.

Since the crash, at least 100 state police, sheriff's deputies and fire and rescue crews have been on scene to help find the pilot, and investigate the crash.

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10 p.m. Update:
The search for a missing F-15C pilot in a remote part of Augusta County will last through the night. The Department of Defense is taking over the search after this morning's crash.

"Our thoughts and prayers go out to the pilot and his family, regardless of outcome, this is a traumatic event and we remain vigilant as the search and recovery effort is underway," said Col. James Keefe, the commander of the 104th Fighter Wing.

The 104th Fighter Wing’s mission is related to homeland defense.

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Emergency crews are currently responding to a crashed military jet in Augusta County.

The AP is reporting that Pentagon spokesman Air Force Lt. Col. Tom Crosson says the pilot of the F-15C was with the 104th Fighter Wing of the Massachusetts Air National Guard.

During a 2 p.m. press conference, Col. James Keefe, Commander of the 104th Fighter Wing said that the pilot flying the 1986 F-15C is very experienced. Keefe also said that F-15C crashes are very uncommon.

The F-15C was in route to receive a system upgrade, and there were no munitions on the aircraft during this cross-country trip.

WCVB, ABC's Boston affiliate is reporting that the pilot, the only person on-board, made a report of an in-flight emergency prior to radio contact being lost. The pilot also ejected and the condition of the pilot is unknown at this time. The station is also reporting that the jet was heading to the New Orleans Naval Air Station to be outfitted with a new radar system when it went down.

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

Virginia State Police say the first call of the crash came in at 9:06 a.m. on Wednesday.

According to an Augusta County Sheriff's Office deputy, a loud boom was heard in the area of Deerfield Valley Road in Deerfield and black smoke can currently be seen there. A crash site has been visually located due to heavy smoke coming from the side of a nearby mountain.

There have been no reported injuries on the ground, meaning no local residents have been injured as a result of the crash, according to state police.

Sheriff's deputies and emergency crews are currently in the Deerfield area responding to these reports.

Both the Luray Caverns Airport and Shenandoah Valley Regional Airport say they did not receive any distress calls this morning.

Currently, all through routes to the area are closed.

Barnes Air National Guard Base is planning a press conference for 2 p.m. on Wednesday.

This story will continue to be updated with more information.


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