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Wisconsin F-16 pilot dies after crashing in Upper Peninsula, Guard says

Posted at 4:32 PM, Dec 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-10 17:39:37-05

The pilot of an F-16 fighter jet that crash in the Upper Peninsula has died, the Wisconsin Air National Guard announced Thursday.

The F-16 Fighting Falcon assigned to the 115th Fighter Wing at Truax Field Air National Guard Base in Madison crashed around 8 p.m. Tuesday. The plane crashed in the Hiawatha National Forest, which is about 250 miles northeast of Truax Field.

The crash launched a massive, multistate search for the pilot and their plane.

The pilot was the only person aboard, the Guard says. The pilot will not be named until 24 hours after notifying the service member’s next of kin.

“We are deeply saddened by this tragic loss, and our thoughts and prayers are with the family during this difficult time,” 115th Fighter Wing commander Col. Bart Van Roo said in a statement Thursday. “Today is a day for mourning, and the 115th Fighter Wing along with the entire Wisconsin National Guard stands with the pilot’s family as we grieve the loss of a great Airman, and patriot.”

The cause of the crash is under investigation.

An F-16 that took off from Truax Field in 2011 crashed into a vacant house in Adams County. The pilot ejected safely, but a fire forced 50 people to evacuate their nearby homes, according to the Associated Press.

The U.S. Air Force decided in April of 2020 that Truax Field in Madison will receive 18 new F-35 fighter planes, to replace aging F-16s.

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