AUGUSTA COUNTY- An F-15C fighter jet from the Massachusetts Air National Guard crashed in Augusta County near Deerfield Wednesday morning around 9 a.m.
"Air Force and civilian first responders are responding to the scene," Army Col. Steve Warren said.
At a news conference in Westfield, Massachusetts, Col. James Keefe of the 104th Fighter Wing of the Massachusetts Air National Guard said that the missing pilot is an experienced flyer. He said the plane was on its way to New Orleans to have a radar installed as part of routine maintenance.
Keefe said he had not received confirmation that anyone had reached the crash site.
"Information on this incident is developing rapidly and we are not going to speculate on what occurred or the status of the pilot", said Keefe. "We are hopeful that the pilot is ok, and the pilot will be in our thoughts and prayers as the events of this incident unfold."
Officials say the pilot reported an inflight emergency, then lost radio contact.
"I'm on location, with smoke, and we do have debris," said a breathless responder on emergency radio frequencies at 10:04 a.m. "I got debris everywhere... I haven't located anybody."
Air Combat Command, based at Langley AFB in Hampton, told WVEC.com the plane was assigned to the 104th Fighter Wing and the condition of the pilot wasn't known.
Virginia State Police confirmed that they were notified at 9:06 a.m. of a plane crash.
The Augusta Co. Sheriff's Office told WVEC.com that people reported hearing a loud boom and then saw dark smoke coming from a mountain in Deerfield around 9 a.m.
The sheriff's office, fire department personnel, Virginia State Police are on the scene in the sparsely-populated area and have confirmed the debris is from an F-15 fighter jet, the sheriff's office stated.
Col. Keefe said the jet was making a cross-country trip to receive a system upgrade, and there were no munitions on the aircraft.
Other emergency crews were still looking for the possible crash site. It's near Cold Springs Road, a fire road off Old Parkersburg Turnpike.
In a jet like an F-15, the pilot would have possible ability to eject before a plane crash. State Police is apparently trying to launch a helicopter, probably to look for a survivor.
Neighbors have reported a pillar of smoke in the Elliot's Knob area, and at least one person said they saw a low-flying jet early this morning in the Staunton area.
Police have just closed Old Parkersburg Turnpike to non-emergency traffic.
The latest reports from police dispatch are that an F-15 fighter jet is missing. They are in contact with an airport in D.C. that lost contact with a military aircraft.
The fumes from the reported crash may be toxic, warn emergency officials.