ANCHORAGE (Reuters) - The Air Force confirmed on Friday that the pilot of an F-22 fighter jet that crashed in Alaska earlier this week during a nighttime training mission perished in the accident.
Air Force officials initially had held out hope that the pilot of the Lockheed Martin twin-engine fighter equipped with stealth technology might have ejected and survived Tuesday night’s crash.
“Based on evidence recovered from the crash site, and after two days of extensive aerial and ground search efforts, we know that Captain Jeffrey Haney did not eject from the aircraft prior to impact,” Colonel Jack McMullen, commander of the Air Force 3rd Wing, said in a statement.
Search teams at the wreckage site, about 100 miles (160 km) north of Anchorage, found part of Haney’s ejection seat and several items the pilot wore during the flight, McMullen said.
At a news conference, McMullen said the the crash left a hole in the earth and that most of what remains of the aircraft is below ground level. An aerial photo of the crash site showed a round crater in the forest, surrounded by blackened trees.
Radar contact with Haney’s aircraft was lost as the jet and another plane were returning to their home base at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson. The wreckage was spotted the next morning by an Alaska National Guard helicopter crew.
Writing by Steve Gorman; Editing by Peter Bohan