Pilot Missing After Wisconsin ANG F-16 Crashes

An F-16 from the Wisconsin Air National Guard’s 115th Fighter Wing crashed around 8 p.m. on Dec. 8, and the pilot’s status was not known as of early Dec. 9.

The jet, based out of Truax Field Air National Guard Base in Madison, was flying a routine training mission with one pilot on board when it crashed in Delta County. Military safety and security personnel are on site. A ground, air, and water search effort continues, including with U.S. Coast Guard vessels.

“We are a close knit family and when an incident like this occurs, every member in our organization feels it,” said Col. Bart Van Roo, 115th Fighter Wing commander, in a release. “The safety of our pilot along with search and rescue efforts are our top priority, and we will continue to pray for the pilot’s safe return.”

The cause of the crash is unknown and the incident remains under investigation. 

The base announced it was conducting night flying operations as part of regular training from Dec. 7-10.

The wing flies 21 F-16s, serving as part of Operation Noble Eagle. It also has repeatedly deployed to the Middle East, including a 2019 deployment to Afghanistan. The Air Force announced in April the unit would receive 18 F-35As starting in 2023.

The incident is the latest F-16 crash this year, including a June fatal mishap at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., and a July crash at Holloman Air Force Base, N.M. In November 2019, the Air Force Safety Center and F-16 Program Office said it did not see any systemic safety issues with the jet despite a series of crashes in recent years.

Editor’s Note: The story was updated at 9:14 a.m. on Dec. 9 with additional information about the search.