August 28, 2014, BARNES AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Mass. – The search for a missing 104th Fighter Wing pilot expanded Thursday with Air Force resources as day broke over the Washington National Forest near Deerfield Valley, Virginia.
An F-15C Eagle assigned to the 104th Fighter Wing crashed about 9:05 a.m. Wednesday, about five minutes after radio contact with the pilot was lost.
Since Wednesday morning, a search and rescue operation has been on-going in Virginia. The search efforts now include a specially equipped HC-130 aircraft assigned to Moody Air Force Base 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 the day Wednesday, 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-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 in route to receive a system upgrade, and there were no munitions on the aircraft during this cross-country trip.