Long before daybreak this morning, searchers resumed looking for the pilot of an F-15C fighter jet that crashed around 9:00 a.m. local time yesterday, in the mountains of western Virginia. State, local, and federal officials are participating in the search.
The jet went down just minutes after the pilot’s report of an in-flight emergency, hitting the earth with an impact that witnesses said felt like an earthquake. The impact of the fighter jet made a huge crater and left an even larger debris field.
There were no eye-witness reports of the pilot ejecting prior to the crash. After more than 24-hours, hope is waning that the unnamed pilot will be found alive.
Maj. Matthew Mutti of the 104th Fighter Wing of the Massachusetts Air National Guard said there were no munitions onboard the aircraft. It's likely the aircraft was fully-fueled at the time of the crash. The fighter jet was reportedly maintaining an altitude of more than 30,000 feet when the emergency took place.
The single-seat F-15C was headed to New Orleans, Louisiana, for radar installation, said to be part of a routine maintenance and system upgrade. Massachusetts Air Guard officials say the pilot was experienced.
There were no reports of injuries to civilians on the ground. the impact was some 135 miles from Richmond, Virginia.