The pilot of an F-15 jet that crashed this week in remote Virginia mountains was killed, military officials said yesterday, bringing to a sad end an exhaustive two-day search involving more than 100 local, state, and federal officials as well as volunteers. The Massachusetts Air National Guard pilot, whose identity was not disclosed, was en route to New Orleans for radar installation as part of routine maintenance and reported an inflight emergency before losing radio contact.
"Today was a tough day for the Massachusetts Air National Guard," the guard's commander, Brig. Gen. Robert Brooks, said at a news conference. Brooks said rescuers found evidence at the crash site yesterday that the pilot did not eject. When asked for specifics, he said, "We just found evidence that the ejection seat was with the aircraft." Brooks would not comment on whether the pilot's remains had been found, but only said, "We bring every airman home." The investigation into what caused the crash of the single-seat jet is ongoing and will take several weeks, he said. (Read more F-15 fighter jet stories.)