The pilot of an F-15C Eagle fighter jet that crashed into a mountainous region of Virginia Wednesday morning was unable to eject and died in the crash, the Air National Guard said Thursday.
The pilot's name was not immediately released. Col. James Keefe, commander of the 104th Fighter Wing at Barnes Air National Guard Base in Westfield, Mass., said teams were only able to safely reach the remote crash site Thursday afternoon and discovered the pilot's body in the wreckage.
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"This is a devastating day for the family of our deceased pilot and the members of the 104th Fighter Wing and the entire F-15 community," Keefe said. "These tragedies remind us of the risks that our brave men and women in uniform take every day."
The single-seat fighter was flying to a naval base in New Orleans when it crashed in Virginia’s mountainous Shenandoah Valley just after 9 a.m. Wednesday. Searchers had scoured the region in hopes the pilot had safely ejected and was alive. At least 150 people from 20 government agencies, as well as volunteer groups, participated in the search, state police said.
— Phil Helsel