Virginia Plane Crash: Missing Pilot Found Dead After F-15C Fighter Jet Crash

( [email protected] ) Aug 29, 2014 09:31 AM EDT
Virginia Fighter Jet Crash
A helicopter takes off near search team members who wait for their turn to join the search for a missing pilot at the mobile command center in Deerfield, Va., on Wednesday, Aug. 27, 2014. The search is for the missing pilot of an F15c fighter jet which crashed into a mountain near Elliot Knob in Augusta County. (AP photo/The News Leader, Mike Tripp)

The pilot of an Air National Guard F-15C fighter jet that crashed in Virginia was found dead, authorities said Thursday.

Col. James Keefe, 104th Fighter Wing commander, told reporters that searchers, more than 100 local, state and federal officials as well as volunteers, didn't get into the remote crash site until Thursday afternoon. There were fires and other hazards from Wednesday's crash.

"This is a devastating day for the family of our deceased pilot and the members of the 104th Fighter Wing," said Keefe, according to CNN. He said his "thoughts and prayers are with the family" of the dead pilot, the AP reported.

Keefe said he expects officials will release the name of the pilot on Friday. He said he met with the immediate family before Thursday night's news conference.

Keefe said the investigation will take several weeks, but the pilot was unable to eject from the plane.

The single-seat aircraft went down Wednesday morning in a dense forest area of Virginia-West Virginia border. The experienced pilot was on a routine maintenance flight to New Orleans for a radar system upgrade and there were no missiles on board.

Prior to losing contact and the crash, the pilot reported an in-flight emergency at 30,000 to 40,000 feet, Keefe said at a Wednesday press conference in Westfield, Mass., home of the fighter wing unit.

There were no reports of injuries on the ground, said Corinne Geller, spokeswoman for Virginia State Police.