WESTFIELD, MA (WSHM) -
Rescue teams in Virginia will continue their search throughout the night to find a Western Mass-based pilot after a crash Wednesday morning.
Meantime, members of the 104th out of Barnes Air National Guard Base, where the F-15 fighter jet originated, are still hoping for a positive outcome.
Thick plumes of smoke could bee seen hovering over Deerfield, Virginia in the hours after the crash.
"At about 9:05 local time Washington lost contact with one of our F-15C aircrafts," Col. James Keefe of the 104th said at a press conference at Barnes Wednesday.
The plane was en route from Westfield to New Orleans to get a new radar system installed when it went down in the foothills of Virginia's Shenandoah Valley.
"The pilot did report an in-flight emergency prior to losing communications," Keefe said.
That distress call would be the last contact with the pilot.
Now an intense search is on to find him.
"Virginia State Police med flight is here, DOHS, FBI and US forestry services are all here assisting with search and rescue efforts," said Corrine Geller, spokesperson for the Virginia State Police.
The crash site is located high up in the mountains in a thickly wooded section of the George Washington Forest.
"Every six months we go through ejection training as well as initial pilot training. You get all the training you need to survive in the woods," Keefe said.
That leaves many of the pilot's fellow comrades back on base holding out hope for his safe return.
"We just kind of I think in a little bit of a shock, but we're doing what we need to do in the investigation and see where it leads us," said Lt. Anthony Mutti of the 104th.
This is a developing story and CBS 3 Springfield will continue to provide updates as they become available.
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