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USAF Pilot Missing After Fla. Crash

May 1, 2002

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EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. (AP) _ An Air Force F-15C Eagle fighter crashed in the Gulf of Mexico and the Coast Guard widened its search for the pilot on Wednesday.

The plane based at Eglin, in the Florida Panhandle, crashed Tuesday about 60 miles south of Panama City during a weapons testing flight.

The search was expanded to 150 miles offshore because of currents and the jet’s speed, said Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer Jeff Murphy in New Orleans. He said some debris had been found.

There was no indication whether the pilot was able to eject, said Col. Dennis Sager, commander of the 46th Test Wing, part of the Air Force’s Air Armament Center at Eglin.

The pilot was testing a newly developed air-to-air missile, but the weapon was unarmed and was not to be launched, Sanger said.

A tanker and an F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter also participated in the test, but neither was nearby when the F-15 crashed.

``The first indications that there was something wrong was that the chase aircraft made several radio calls inquiring to the test aircraft and there was no response,″ Sager said at a news conference Tuesday. ``We don’t have enough information to know what happened.″

The pilot’s identity had not been released.

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