104th to assist in missing pilot search

The pilot crashed his F-15 C early Wednesday morning

U. S. Air National Guard photo by 1st Lt. Anthony Mutti

WESTFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Members of the 104th Fighter Wing traveled to Virginia to assist in the search for a missing pilot.

According to the 104th Fighter Wing Facebook page, they traveled on a C-130 Hercules from the 103rd Airlift Wing, Bradley Air National Guard Base, Conn.

The missing pilot was flying an F-15 C Eagle from the 104th Fighter Wing in Westfield, when he crashed in a remote region near Deerfield Valley, Virginia around 9:30 a.m. Wednesday.

At 11:15 p.m. Wednesday, about 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, Virginia State Police Public Relations Manager.

Throughout the day Wednesday, at least 100 state police, sheriff’s deputies and fire and rescue personnel had been on scene, along with up to seven helicopters supporting aerial search missions, said Geller.

The pilot’s identity is not being released at this time, but Col. James Keefe said that as is the case for all pilots in the 104th, the pilot of this aircraft was very experienced.

Keefe said that the aircraft, which is one of 18 stationed at the base and dates back to about 1986, had been on the way to New Orleans Naval Air Station to receive upgrades to its radar system. Prior to the accident, it was at high altitude; somewhere between 30,000 and 40,000 feet, prior to the accident.

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