Thursday, November 18, 2010

Search on for missing F-22 pilot

Dozens of Army and Air Force personnel and vehicles are heading into the Alaska wilderness 100 miles north of Anchorage to search for the missing pilot of an F-22 Raptor that crashed Tuesday night.

The stealth fighter jet vanished from radar and lost contact with its wingman at about 7:40 p.m. Tuesday. After spotting wreckage Wednesday morning, pararescuemen with the Alaska Air National Guard landed at the crash site.

"They said it looked like a crater," said Maj. Guy Hayes with the Guard's Rescue Coordination Center. "There was a stream nearby that was creating a lot of water in the crash site."

The searchers did not find the pilot, identified as Capt. Jeffrey Haney by his stepdad in the Jackson Citizen Patriot, a Michigan newspaper. The Air Force would not name the pilot until they found him, spokesmen said. Haney has a wife and two daughters, according to the Citizen Patriot.

After spending Tuesday night scanning the mountainous area southeast of Cantwell, searchers resumed Wednesday and spotted what looked like the crash site south of the Denali Highway The crater is in a drainage between two mountains and had partially filled with water, Hayes said.

First they had to get the right gear for hazardous materials from the crashed plane, Hayes said. It's normal to expect fuel and other hazardous material at a plane crash, he said. The searchers were on the ground at the site from 1 or 2 p.m. until dark, Hayes said.

Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson spokesman John Pennell said they plane was not carrying explosives but did have flares and chaff onboard, as well as training rounds.

Hundreds of Air Force and Army personnel are helping with the "huge logistical operation" of a ground search for the pilot, Pennell said. The state Department of Transportation is plowing roads in the area to help get equipment to the area as the search moves into a more long-term phase, Pennell said. A convoy of Army and Air Force vehicles was on its way to the area, he said.


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