You choose, we deliver
If you are interested in this story, you might be interested in others from The Journal Gazette. Go to www.journalgazette.net/newsletter and pick the subjects you care most about. We'll deliver your customized daily news report at 3 a.m. Fort Wayne time, right to your email.

U.S.

  • Team seeks anyone who encountered Ebola patient
    A nine-member team of federal health officials is tracking anyone who had close contact with a man being treated for Ebola in a Dallas hospital, the director of the nation's top disease-fighting agency said Wednesday.
  • EMS crew exposed to Ebola victim tests negative
    Three members of the ambulance crew that transported a man diagnosed with Ebola to a Dallas hospital have tested negative for the virus and are restricted to their homes as health officials monitor their conditions.
  • Jury selection resumes in Jodi Arias retrial
    Jury selection resumes in the penalty retrial of convicted murderer Jodi Arias as prosecutors try again for a death sentence.
Advertisement

Pilot's fate unknown in fighter-jet crash

DEERFIELD, Va. – An experienced pilot was missing Wednesday after the flier’s F-15 fighter jet crashed in the mountains of western Virginia, shaking residents but causing no injuries on the ground, military and law enforcement officials said.

The pilot of the single-seat jet was headed to New Orleans for radar installation as part of routine maintenance and reported an inflight emergency, then lost radio contact, authorities said.

The pilot and jet are with the 104th Fighter Wing of the Massachusetts Air National Guard, officials there said.

It was unclear whether the pilot had ejected and the plane had no munitions on board, Col. James Keefe said at a news conference in Westfield, Massachusetts, home of the fighter wing.

Just before 9 a.m., residents near Deerfield – population 130, about 135 miles northwest of Richmond – said they heard a series of explosion-like booms.

“It’s the loudest noise I’ve ever heard,” said Rebecca Shinaberry, 63, who lives on a farm about two miles away. “(It) just shook the ground, and from my house we could just see a big plume of smoke.”

Her husband, turkey farmer A.D. Shinaberry, said that from the first two booms, he thought a plane had broken the sound barrier. But 10 seconds later he heard a third boom – the crash.

Then, “it was like a mushroom. Black smoke came up,” Shinaberry said.

From the smoke, Virginia State Police said, they located the crash site, in a heavily wooded but level area adjacent to a mountain in the George Washington National Forest.

A deep crater and a large debris field are on the site, and state police are searching, spokeswoman Corrine Geller said.

“It is probably five, six miles from the crash site to the nearest civilization,” Keefe said. “It’s deeply wooded, and a lot of hills and mountains.”

“We are not going to speculate on what occurred or the status of the pilot. We are hopeful that the pilot is OK.”

A massive rescue operation was underway in the rural area. Several dozen local, state, and federal officials, as well as volunteers, gathered at the Deerfield Volunteer Fire Department. State police said seven helicopters are being used, including two from the FBI.

Keefe said the plane was flying about 30,000 to 40,000 feet – “pretty high” – when the pilot reported the emergency. Pilots are trained to release equipment when ejecting, Keefe said, so it was likely the pilot did not have a radio.

F-15s are maneuverable tactical fighters that can reach speeds up to 1,875 mph, according to the Air Force website. The F-15C Eagle entered the Air Force inventory in 1979 and costs nearly $30 million, the website said. The Air Force has nearly 250 F-15s.

Several F-15s have crashed during the last few years in various states. In at least one, the pilot ejected safely. Causes included failure of a support structure for the jet and pilot error.

Associated Press writers Michael Felberbaum in Richmond, Brock Vergakis in Norfolk, Virginia, and Stephen Singer in Westfield, Massachusetts, contributed to this report.

Advertisement