DEERFIELD, Va. — The massive search for a Massachusetts Air National Guard pilot whose fighter jet crashed into a mountainous region here ended late Thursday when officials confirmed he was found dead in the wreckage.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and we are doing all we can to support them during this very difficult time,” Colonel James Keefe, commander of the 104th Fighter Wing in Westfield, Mass., said in a statement. “We ask that everyone respect the privacy of the family and allow them the time they need to grieve.”
The pilot, whom officials did not name on Thursday, was flying an F-15 Eagle jet from the Massachusetts base to the Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base New Orleans to undergo a scheduled system upgrade. The plane crashed about 9:05 a.m. Wednesday; radio contact with the pilot was lost about five minutes earlier, after the pilot reported an in-flight emergency.
Governor Deval Patrick also offered condolences in a statement.
“This is a very sad day for the Guard and for Massachusetts,” Patrick said. “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.”
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