Search continues for pilot in F-15C crash in Augusta County - NBC12 - WWBT - Richmond, VA News On Your Side

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Search continues for pilot in F-15C crash in Augusta County

Source: Twitter - @ThatGuy_GBeck Source: Twitter - @ThatGuy_GBeck
AUGUSTA, VA (WWBT/RNN) -

The search for an Air National Guard pilot continues after an F-15C single-seat aircraft based out of Massachusetts crashed in a rural area of Augusta County Wednesday morning.

The crash happened around 9 a.m. near Deerfield Valley Road. According to a spokesperson for the Barnes Air National Guard Base, the 104th Fighter Wing lost radio contact with an F-15C aircraft during a cross-country mission over the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia. The pilot reported an inflight emergency prior to radio contact being lost. 

A twitter user posted a photo showing smoke rising from the area not long after the crash.

Law enforcement in Augusta County spotted the crash site near Elliott's Knob in the George Washington Naional Forest around 9:45 a.m. An Augusta County Fire and Rescue battalion reached the site around 20 minutes later.

People living around here say they first heard a small explosion in the air. Connie was working on her farm, just a few miles from the crash site.  "Planes go through here loud and that one was weird because it was an unbelievable noise and it was like a little boom and then bam!" she said.  Several people who live in Deerfield tell us the vapor trail from the plane disappeared and they saw a mushroom cloud where the jet crashed.  "I meant the earth actually shook, I thought it was just my legs but it wasn't," says Connie.

State Police describe the scene in a heavily-wooded area as "a deep crater surrounded by a large debris field." The area is isolated and there are no residences nearby. No residents were injured and there were no military weapons on the plane, but the jet fuel is considered hazardous.

So far, no one has been able to make contact with the pilot. Barnes Air National Guard Base officials are working with Virginia State Police and Augusta County authorities in the ongoing rescue mission.

"Information on this incident is developing rapidly and we are not going to speculate on what occurred or the status of the pilot", said Col James Keefe, 104th Fighter Wing Commander. "We are hopeful that the pilot is ok, and the pilot will be in our thoughts and prayers as the events of this incident unfold."

The F-15C aircraft was on its way to receive a system upgrade. 

Since January, there have been four accidents involving a U.S. military aircraft – at least five people have died related to those crashes.  

In June, a fire broke out in the rear of a Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II during take-off from Eglin Air Force Base in Florida. Lt. Hope Cronin, spokeswoman for the 33rd Fighter Wing, said the fire was significant but didn't release the extent of the damage.

In 2012, a Navy jet crashed into a block of Virginia Beach, VA apartment complexes. According to CNN, the two pilots and five others were treated at an area hospital.

Copyright 2014 WWBT NBC12Raycom News Network contributed to the report. All rights reserved.

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