At 9 pm on Tuesday, an F-16 fighter jet crashed into a forest area in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Two days after the incident, the 115th Fighter Wing of the Wisconsin Air National Guard confirmed that the pilot of the jet died in the crash. The announcement was made late in the afternoon on the group’s Facebook page. The post which has gathered over 7,000 reactions, comments, and shares, ends with the hashtag #115fwstrong.
The announcement did not include the pilot’s name as the military stated the name would be revealed a day after the pilot’s family is notified to give them little time to grieve privately. It is still unclear if the pilot died in the crash or was able to eject from the jet before it hit the ground.
“It is with heavy hearts that we announce that the pilot of the F-16 jet that crashed on Tuesday, died in the crash,” said Colonel Bart Van Roo, Wing Commander of the 115th Fighter Wing, confirming the tragic loss. “The 115th Fighter Wing and the whole Wisconsin National Guard mourn the tragic death of a brave Airman and patriot, and we sympathize with the family of the pilot.”
Colonel Roo further added that the unfortunate death of any pilot brings sadness to the entire Air Force given the intimacy among everyone. “Being a close-knit team, the death of any member of the fighter wing brings great sadness and heartbreak to all other members of the team,” he said.
The F-16 was on a training mission on Tuesday when it flew out of the Truax Field Air National Guard Base in Madison, Wisconsin. The military stated in its announcement that the cause of the crash is still being investigated.
The crash occurred in Delta County in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, which is approximately 250 miles away from the Truax Field Air National Guard Base. The area, marked by its dense forests and lakes, is part of the Hiawatha National Forest. Delta County authorities and state police departments in Wisconsin and Michigan as well as members of the US Forest Service were the first responders at the scene of the crash on Tuesday.
The officials started an immediate search for the pilot with the thoughts that he or she might have been able to eject from the jet before it hit the ground. The officials were joined on Wednesday by officers of the US Air Force.
The Facebook post ended with an appreciation of the support that the team received from members of the community following the crash. The group also promised to reveal more information about the crash as soon as it is available.