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Pilot found dead after F-15 crash in Virginia

By Steve Almasy, CNN
updated 10:41 AM EDT, Fri August 29, 2014
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The pilot was unable to eject from the F-15C
  • He reported an in-flight emergency prior to the crash
  • Pilot's identity may be released Friday

(CNN) -- The pilot of an Air National Guard F-15C fighter jet that crashed in Virginia was found dead, the commander of the unit said Thursday.

Air Force Col. James Keefe, 104th Fighter Wing commander, told reporters that searchers didn't get into the remote crash site until Thursday afternoon. There were still fires and other hazards from Wednesday's crash.

Plane crashes in Virginia mountains

"This is a devastating day for the family of our deceased pilot and the members of the 104th Fighter Wing," Keefe told reporters.

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 and they requested time to contact other relatives.

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

The colonel praised his unit as a group with an exemplary safety record.

The single-seat aircraft went down Wednesday morning in a remote, wooded area near the Virginia-West Virginia border. It was flying 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, Keefe said.

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

The 104th Fighter Wing is based in Westfield, Massachusetts.

CNN's Jamie Crawford and Marlena Baldacci contributed to this story.

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