The hunt for the missing Massachusetts F-15C fighter pilot who crashed in Virginia’s mountainous Shenandoah Valley has resumed with additional Air Force resources, officials said Thursday morning. The ground search temporarily ended overnight when the area’s treacherous terrain slowed teams that included members of the Virginia state police and local sheriff's deputies. An HC-130 aircraft began scouring from the skies at 3 a.m. ET, after as many as seven helicopters searched during the night, the Massachusetts Air National Guard’s 104th Fighter Wing said in a statement.
The unnamed pilot went missing after his plane crashed just after 9 a.m. Wednesday en route from Massachusetts to New Orleans, where he was expected to get a radar system upgrade. The debris field was found in a remote area near Deerfield, Virginia. It was unclear if the experienced pilot was able to eject from the single-seater before crashing. Locals described hearing a loud noise at the time of the accident. “I turned around and there was a mushroom cloud. It looked like something you see in a movie after they dropped a bomb,” farmworker Garrett Beck told NBC News on Wednesday.
— Erik Ortiz