The wild and chilly waters of the grim North Sea off the northeast coast of Britain were being searched Monday for a U.S. Air Force pilot whose F-15C went down in the water during a morning training mission.
The plane was attached to U.S. 48th Fighter Wing and was based at the RAF base in Lakenheath, according to The Washington Times, citing a statement from the 48th Fighter Wing. The crash took place shortly after 9:30 a.m. local time, about 4:30 a.m. Eastern Time.
News Breaking of an F15C crashing into the North Sea
Search underway for solo crew member https://t.co/hLOdhb45tG
— VC Trustee (@VCTrustee) June 15, 2020
“At the time of the accident, the aircraft was on a routine training mission with one pilot on board,” the statement from the 48th Fighter Wing said. “The cause of the crash as well as the status of the pilot are unknown at this time, and U.K. Search and Rescue have been called to support.”
Col. Will Marshall of the 48th Fighter Wing posted a somber video on Twitter.
“Search and Rescue effort are currently under way, but the pilot and of the aircraft is still missing. We will provide updates as they become available, while prioritizing respect and consideration for the pilot’s family.” – Col. Will Marshallhttps://t.co/bJ8LHnY4ad pic.twitter.com/d5u1l6f2iu
— RAF Lakenheath (@48FighterWing) June 15, 2020
“The cause of the crash is unknown at this time, Search and rescue efforts are currently under way, but the pilot of the aircraft is still missing,” he said.
“We’re extremely grateful for the timely response of our U.K. counterparts in support of these recovery efforts and remain hopeful that our Liberty Wing airman will be relocated and recovered,” Marshall said.
Two lifeboats and a helicopter were heading to the crash site, the U.K. Telegraph reported.
The U.S. Air Force had sent three US Boeing KC-135 Stratotankers to scan the sea from above.
“HM Coastguard is coordinating the response after reports were received of an aeroplane going down into the sea 74 nautical miles off Flamborough Head,” Britain’s coast guard said in a statement.
“The HM Coastguard helicopter from Humberside has been sent along with Bridlington and Scarborough RNLI lifeboats. Following a Mayday broadcast by HM Coastguard, other vessels nearby are heading to the area. It’s believed the aircraft had one person on board,” the statement said.
We are coordinating a response today after reports were received of an aeroplane going down into the sea 74NM off Flamborough Head, Yorks.
Our helicopter from Humberside has been sent along with Bridlington and Scarborough @RNLI lifeboats.
— HM Coastguard (@HMCoastguard) June 15, 2020
In its reporting on the incident, the U.K. Daily Mail wrote that fire engines were visible on the runway at the base at midday awaiting the other planes returning from the mission.
“One of the planes was later seen landing, reportedly with a cracked canopy,” the Daily Mail reported.
The reports could not be verified early Monday.
The 48th Fighter Wing, which has operated from the base since 1960, has more than 4,500 personnel.
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