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F-15 military jet crashes in Virginia

Published time: August 27, 2014 14:45
Edited time: August 27, 2014 15:43
U.S. Air Force F-15 fighter (Reuters/Ints Kalnins)

U.S. Air Force F-15 fighter (Reuters/Ints Kalnins)

An F-15 military jet crashed in western Virginia early Wednesday, according to local media reports.

In Deerfield, Virginia, multiple news outlets have reported already that an aircraft crashed shortly after 9:00 a.m. local time in a wooded part of the region near Staunton, VA, around 180 miles west of Washington, DC. By 10:30, the Staunton News Leader had confirmed that a spokesperson for the National Travel Safety Board identified the aircraft as a military jet, and that a police scanner dispatch suggested one person had been on board.

Officials with the August County Sheriff’s Office told a local ABC News affiliate that a loud boom had been heard in the mountainous part of Deerfield at around 9:15 a.m., and that witnesses reported black smoke emerging from the scene. The News Leader also reported that Virginia State Police had been notified roughly at the same time of a plane crash, and that the debris was likely that of an F-15 jet.

"I'm on location, with smoke, and we do have debris," the News Leader quoted a responder as saying just after 10:00 a.m. by way of an emergency radio dispatch. "I got debris everywhere... I haven't located anybody."

A spokesperson for the Pentagon has since confirmed to the News Leader that the aircraft is a Massachusetts Air National Guard F-15C fighter from the 104th Fighter Wing out of Barnes Air National Guard Base. WCVB News reported out of Boston that Pentagon officials confirmed the jet had left Massachusetts and was en route to Louisiana.

"We can confirm the 104th Fighter Wing lost an F-15C aircraft around the Shenandoah Valley region of western Virginia,” Maj. Matthew Mutti, spokesman for the wing, told Stars and Stripes. “It was a cross-country mission to do an aircraft upgrade.”

WJLA has also reported that the Virginia State Police have dispatched a helicopter to search for the pilot of the jet, who may have ejected from the aircraft before the crash. Major Candice Ismirle, a spokesperson for the US Air Force, told the News Leader around two hours after the crash occurred that the "status of the pilot is unknown."

"They found the wreckage and there's a lot of debris, but we haven't seen any sign of the pilot, so we're hoping he ejected," Becky Coyner of the Augustus County Sheriff's Department told the Los Angeles Times. According to the paper, the Massachusetts Air National Guard confirmed that the pilot placed an emergency call with dispatchers before communication was cut short.