DEERFIELD, Va. (AP) — An experienced pilot was missing Wednesday after the flier’s F-15 fighter jet crashed in the mountains of western Virginia, shaking residents but causing no injuries on the ground, military and law enforcement officials said.
The pilot of the single-seat jet was headed to New Orleans for radar installation as part of routine maintenance and reported an inflight emergency, then lost radio contact, authorities said. The pilot and jet are with the 104th Fighter Wing of the Massachusetts Air National Guard, officials there said.
It was unclear whether the pilot had ejected and the plane had no munitions onboard, Col. James Keefe said at a news conference in Westfield, Massachusetts, home of the fighter wing.
Just before 9 a.m., residents near Deerfield — with a population of just 130 people, about 135 miles northwest of Richmond — say they heard a series of explosion-like booms.
From the smoke, Virginia State Police said, they located the crash site, in a heavily wooded but level area adjacent to a mountain in the George Washington National Forest.
A deep crater and a large debris field are on the site, and state police are searching, spokeswoman Corrine Geller said.