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F-16 fighter jet crashes in Michigan – pilot missing – search ongoing

Two F-16C Fighting Falcons from the 115th Fighter Wing, Wisconsin Air National Guard, on a routine training mission over Wisconsin, Oct. 21, 2008. (National Guard Bureau/Released)
December 09, 2020

An F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter jet assigned to the Wisconsin Air National Guard’s 115th Fighter Wing crashed while flying over Michigan’s Upper Peninsula at around 8 p.m. Tuesday night. The aircraft’s solo pilot remains missing.

In a statement shared to Facebook, the 115th Fighter Wing said Tuesday night that a search is underway for the pilot. The F-16 took off from Truax Field Air National Guard Base in Madison.

“Emergency responders are on scene. The cause of the crash, as well as the status of the pilot, are unknown at this time, and the incident is under investigation,” the 115th Fighter Wing said in its initial statement. “The 115th Fighter Wing will provide an update via the 115th Fighter Wing website and social media pages as soon as additional details are available.”

In a second statement Wednesday morning, the 115th Fighter Wing said the search was still ongoing and was being coordinated with local emergency responders, the U.S. Coast Guard and other government agencies, searching by air, land and water.

The F-16 crash site was located in Michigan’s Delta County and local responders initially secured the crash site, but 115th Fighter Wing personnel have since arrived at the site. The fighter wing announced additional personnel would arrive later to help facilitate the safety and security of the crash site.

“We are a close knit family and when an incident like this occurs, every member in our organization feels it.”, Col. Bart Van Roo, 115th Fighter Wing commander said. “The safety of our pilot along with search and rescue efforts are our top priority, and we will continue to pray for the pilot’s safe return”.

Another F-16 fighter jet, flying from Shaw Air Force Base, in South Carolina, crashed in June of this year. The pilot in that incident, identified as 1st Lt. David Schmitz of the Air Force’s 20th Fighter Wing, was pronounced dead.

Another F-16 fighter jet, assigned to the 49th Wing in New Mexico, crashed on Oct. 27 of 2019. The pilot, in that case, was able to eject from the aircraft but was hospitalized following the incident. About three weeks earlier, another F-16 assigned to the 480th Fighter Squadron, 52nd Fighter Wing, out of Spangdahlem Air Base in Germany, crashed, while the pilot was able to eject and was also taken to a nearby hospital.

The F-16 is a multi-role fighter jet designed by Lockheed Martin Corp. The first F-16A variant entered into U.S. service in January of 1979, according to an Air Force fact sheet of the fighter.