Crashed Fighter Jet Found, Whereabouts Of Pilot Unknown

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The Virginia Army National Guard continued to lead a search and rescue operation for a Massachusetts Air National Guard pilot after his F-15C fighter jet crashed in the mountains of Virginia, near the West Virginia border.

The commanding officer, Col. James Keefe, said at Barnes Air National Guard Base in Westfield that the operation to find the pilot, who is part of the 104th Fighter Wing, is challenging because the crash site is in a remote and heavily wooded area in the Shenandoah Valley.

The jet left the base at around 8 a.m., and was scheduled to land at Naval Air Station in New Orleans to have a new radar installed.  At about 9 a.m. the pilot called in an in-flight emergency, and then lost radio contact.  The 104th learned about the crash about a half hour later.

Col. Keefe said all pilots at the base are very experienced and highly trained, and every six months they are trained on ejection procedures.

"We have not had contact with him and you can speculate on that, but there's a good chance he does not have his radio on him," Col. Keefe said.  "A normal ejection procedure for over a wooded area is to release your survival equipment so you don't get caught up in the trees so that is a high probability of that possibly happening."

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