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Search for Missing F-15C Pilot from Barnes Continues

DEERFIELD, Va. (WGGB) — From every direction, helicopters transform a small western Virginia ball field into a busy landing zone.

“This is the epitome of multi-agency, multi-component operations,” explains Brig. Gen. Tim Williams of the Va. Air National Guard.

At least six helcicopters and planes are searching the vast, treacherous area the F-15C is believed to have passed through.

On the ground, at least 150 personnel – some on horseback, others on ATVs and the rest on foot.

“There is a basic system that’s used for a grid search or a line search where they are walking. That’s why they are on foot where they are walking through whatever they are facing, whether that’s high terrain or on flat, thick vegetation,” says 2nd Lt. Greg Fletcher of the Civil Air Patrol.

To get an idea of what kinds of conditions exist here, you can see the green canopy of all the trees above and steep drop-offs below.

Initial witness reports of a parachute being seen Wednesday have not been confirmed, officials say. It still is not known if the pilot ejected.

With choppers circulating in the distance, those at the command staff say no matter how hard the mission is to find the pilot, it remains a search and rescue to hopefully find him alive.

“It is a challenge, but we’ve got some very sophisticated optics on the aircraft that are out there and these folks have a lot of experience doing these types of things, so we are hoping again that there might be some visual sign that could lead us to something,” says Major Cotton Puryear (Ret.) of the Va. Air National Guard.

Something these rescuers know many in western Mass. are closely watching

Williams adds, “We take it to heart. We are going to do everything we can for that airmen and their family.”

As the search and the investigation into the crash continues, ABC40’s Brendan Monahan will be have live reports from the scene in Deerfield with the latest updates on the search.

You can also follow Brendan’s on Twitter using @MonahanWGGB:


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