Missing F-15 Pilot from Barnes Confirmed Dead

DEERFIELD, Va. (WGGB) — Officials have confirmed that the pilot of the F-15C that crashed Wednesday in western Virginia was killed.

Just after 9 a.m. Wednesday, the pilot of an F-15C made a radio communication that there was an in-flight emergency.

Air traffic controllers in Washington then lost contact with the aircraft.

A short time later, the plane was reported to have crashed in a heavily wooded, mountainous area of the Shenandoah Valley in Deerfield, Va.

Over the last 36 hours, emergency crews were searching from the air and on the ground searching for the pilot.

Col. James Keefe, Commander of the 104th Fighter Wing, says that due to conditions at the site, investigators were not able safely enter the site until late Thursday afternoon.

Once there, it was found that the pilot was deceased from what Keefe says were “injuries sustained during the crash.”

Keefe also notes that the pilot did not safely eject from the aircraft, and explained that it was too early to tell why the pilot didn’t eject.

The pilot’s name is being withheld pending notification of family members.

Mass. Governor Deval Patrick also released a statement, saying:

“This is a very sad day for the Guard and for Massachusetts. Throughout the last couple of days, as we learned the circumstances of this accident, we held out hope that the pilot would be found and returned safely to his family. Our prayers and condolences are with his family, the Wing Command and all the Members of the Massachusetts National Guard.”

State Senator Don Humason from Westfield added his condolences to the family and the members of the unit, saying:

“I join with the men and women of the 104th Fighter Wing at Barnes in the feelings of senseless loss and profound sadness. The Barnestormers are a close knit group and are like part of the family of all of us in the greater Westfield area. When any part of that family is lost all of us mourn. My most sincere condolences to the pilot’s family, his co-workers, and fellow warriors. In war and in peace it is still a dangerous job that few do as well, or as proudly and professionally, as the members of the 104th Fighter Wing of the Massachusetts Air National Guard. God bless them all. Rest in Peace.”

The F-15C was on its way to Naval Air Station New Orleans to receive an upgrade to its radar system.

The investigation in the crash remains ongoing.

ABC40 will continue to follow this story and will have more information as it becomes available.