Military pilot killed in VA crash identified - WVVA TV Bluefield Beckley WV News, Weather and Sports

Military pilot killed in VA crash identified

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(AP photo/The News Leader, Mike Tripp). The flight crew for a Maryland State Police helicopter prepares to take off from the mobile command center in Deerfield, Va., on Wednesday, Aug. 27, 2014. (AP photo/The News Leader, Mike Tripp). The flight crew for a Maryland State Police helicopter prepares to take off from the mobile command center in Deerfield, Va., on Wednesday, Aug. 27, 2014.
(AP Photo/Steven Senne). A Massachusetts Air National Guard F-15C fighter aircraft sits near a hangar at Barnes Air National Guard Base, in Westfield, Mass., Wednesday, Aug. 27, 2014. (AP Photo/Steven Senne). A Massachusetts Air National Guard F-15C fighter aircraft sits near a hangar at Barnes Air National Guard Base, in Westfield, Mass., Wednesday, Aug. 27, 2014.

NEWS RELEASE:

8/29/2014 - BARNES AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, 104TH FIGHTER WING , Westfield, Mass. -- Following the fatal crash of a 104th Fighter Wing F-15C aircraft in the remote mountains near Deerfield Valley, Va. the family has asked that the unit share with the public the name of the pilot who was fatally injured Wednesday.

"On behalf of the family of our fallen pilot and with a sense of profound sadness, I am sad to share that Lt. Col. Morris "Moose" Fontenot Jr., was killed tragically in Wednesday's F-15 crash," said Col. James Keefe, 104th Fighter Wing Commander. "We all continue to keep the Fontenot family in our thoughts and prayers during this very difficult time," added Keefe.

Lt. Col. Morris Fontenot Jr. served with the 104th Fighter Wing as the full-time Wing Inspector General, responsible for the implementation of the Air Force Inspection System and as an F-15 instructor pilot with more than 2,300 flight hours. A 1996 Air Force Academy Graduate, Lt. Col. Fontenot was additionally a Weapons School Graduate with more than 17 years of F-15 flying experience. He served as a squadron commander at multiple locations. Following Active Duty assignments in Washington D.C., Japan, Idaho, Florida, Alaska and numerous deployments to the Middle East, Lt. Col. Fontenot joined the Massachusetts Air National Guard in February 2014. He was a decorated combat veteran, earning the Meritorious Service Medal, Air Medal, Aerial Achievement Medal, Air Force Commendation Medal, Air Force Achievement Medal, and Combat Readiness Medal among others.

The investigation into the crash is ongoing.


WESTFIELD, Mass. (AP) - The pilot of an F-15 jet that crashed this week in remote Virginia mountains was killed, military officials said Thursday.

Col. James Keefe said his "thoughts and prayers are with the family" of the pilot, whose identity wasn't disclosed.

The pilot and jet were with the 104th Fighter Wing of the Massachusetts Air National Guard.

The F-15 fighter jet crashed in the mountains of western Virginia on Wednesday, shaking residents but causing no injuries on the ground.  Col. Keefe did tell reporters that the pilot did not safely eject from the aircraft.  His body was found on the crash site Thursday afternoon.  The Massachusetts base was informed of the finding at 5 PM Thursday.


Authorities said the pilot of the single-seat jet was headed to New Orleans for radar installation as part of routine maintenance and reported an inflight emergency before losing radio contact.

Search teams had been looking for the pilot since shortly after the jet crashed around 9 a.m. Wednesday. More than 100 local, state and federal officials as well as volunteers took part in the effort.

Officials haven't said whether the pilot ejected or what caused the crash, which left a deep crater and a large debris field in a heavily wooded but level area adjacent to a mountain in the George Washington National Forest.

They said an official safety investigation board is being convened and the investigation into the crash was ongoing.

Keefe said at a news conference Wednesday in Westfield, home of the fighter wing, that there were no munitions onboard the jet at the time of the crash.

Keefe said the plane was flying at about 30,000 to 40,000 feet when the pilot reported the emergency.

F-15s are maneuverable tactical fighters that can reach speeds up to 1,875 mph, according to the Air Force website. The F-15C Eagle entered the Air Force inventory in 1979 and costs nearly $30 million, the website says. The Air Force has nearly 250 F-15s.

Several F-15s have crashed over the past few years in various states. In at least one, the pilot ejected safely. Causes included failure of a support structure for the jet and pilot error.

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