DEERFIELD, Va., Aug. 28 (UPI) -- The U.S. Air National Guard announced Thursday that the search is expanding for the missing pilot whose F-15C Eagle crash landed in rural Virginia on Wednesday while en route to Louisiana.
According to the 104th Fighter Wing's Barnes Air National Guard Base in Westfield, Mass., "The search efforts now include a specially equipped HC-130 aircraft assigned to Moody Air Force Base," explaining, "this aircraft has specialized equipment designed for low-light/night-time search and rescue operations. The HC-130 has been conducting air operation since 3:00 a.m. Additionally as many as seven helicopters have been conducting aerial night searches."
The expanded resources will enhance the 100-person ground search involving state police, sheriff's deputies and fire and rescue personnel that began Wednesday. A nighttime ground search was called off, said Virginia State Police Public Relations Manger Corinne Geller, because of the "treacherous terrain."
The jet crash landed Wednesday morning at approximately 9:05 a.m. EDT in a wooded area of the George Washington National Forest; "radio contact with the pilot with the pilot was lost about 5 minutes earlier," the 104th Fighter Wing noted.
NORAD tweeted Thursday: "Our thoughts go out to the pilot, the family and those working hard to find one of their own..."
Our thoughts go out to the pilot, the family and those working hard to find one of our own.... http://t.co/axquBUcSOl— NORAD & USNORTHCOM (@NoradNorthcom) August 28, 2014
An investigation into the cause of the accident is underway, as search efforts for the pilot continue.