An Air National Guard F-15C fighter jet from Massachusetts crashed in a Virginia Wednesday morning shortly after the pilot reported an inflight emergency and then lost contact.
A rescue mission from local, state, and federal agencies has not yet made contact with the pilot. The crash occurred in a heavily wooded area near Deerfield, Virginia, making it difficult to reach the site.
“It’s a traumatic event for everyone here,” Lieutenant Colonel James Keefe of the 104th Fighter Wing of the Massachusetts Air National Guard said in a press conference Wednesday afternoon.
NBC News reported that the single-seat plane left from Massachusetts and was flying to New Orleans for a systems upgrade when it went down near Deerfield, Virginia. The fighter jet did not have munition on board. Authorities from the Augusta County Sheriff’s Office said no injuries were reported on the ground.
Military officials said that the pilot had reported an inflight emergency and then lost radio contact before the crash took place.
The pilot was a member of the 104th Fighter Wing of the Massachusetts Air National Guard in Westfield, a spokesperson for the 104th said. Keefe described the pilot as “very experienced” in a press conference Wednesday afternoon.
Investigators were able to locate the crash due to the heavy smoke rising from the area, but they have not yet revealed the pilot’s status.
“Information on this incident is developing rapidly, and we are not going to speculate on what occurred or the status of the pilot,” Col James Keefe, 104th Fighter Wing Commander, said in a statement. “We are hopeful that the pilot is OK, and the pilot will be in our thoughts and prayers.”