News Plane Crashes — 03 October 2017

A U.S. Navy plane from Meridian, Mississippi, crashed Sunday afternoon in the Cherokee National Forest in Tellico Plains, Tennessee, Monroe County (Tenn.) Emergency Management Director David Chambers confirmed. Angela Gosnell/News Sentinel

Both pilots aboard a Navy training jet that went down in the Cherokee National Forest on Sunday have been confirmed dead, military personnel said Monday.

The T-45C Goshawk, attached to Training Squadron Seven (VT-7), was the same aircraft reported missing from the Naval Air Station in Meridian, Miss., according to Lt. Liz Feaster, public affairs officer for Chief of Naval Air Training.

News video:

Navy plane from Meridian, Mississippi, crashed Sunday afternoon in the Cherokee National Forest in Tellico Plains, Tennessee, Monroe County (Tenn.) Michael Patrick/News Sentinel

Military personnel arrived in the Cherokee National Forest early Monday to begin investigating the crash.

The names of the pilots, an instructor and a student, are being withheld until 24 hours after the notification of next of kin.
News video:

The crash site is believed to be about a quarter-mile east of the Pheasant Fields picnic area near the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency’s Tellico Trout Hatchery in the Cherokee National Forest.

A T-45C Goshawk from Meridian’s Naval Air Station was training in the area and hadn’t returned as of 10:30 p.m. ET Sunday, according to an initial Navy news release.

The crash was reported “near the (Tellico Trout) fish hatchery on River Road” just west of the North Carolina border, according to a Facebook post from the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office around 4:30 p.m. ET Sunday.

Helicopters from the University of Tennessee Medical Center and the Knox County Sheriff’s Office flew over the area to search for parachutes, but found none, Monroe County Emergency Management Agency Director David Chambers said.

Chambers estimated the debris field to be “at least half a mile long” and said pieces of the plane were found on both sides of River Road. The crash site is “probably half a mile from the fish hatchery,” he said, adding he was unsure whether “any of the main airplane” had been found.

Mason Boring, a wilderness ranger with the Southern Appalachian Wilderness Stewards who works in the area, believes he saw the plane fly over the boat ramp at Indian Boundary Lake just after 4 p.m. The lake is less than 20 miles north of the hatchery, located at 3193 River Road.

“He was flying super low and he was really buzzing — He was going super fast,” Boring said, adding that it’s “not uncommon” for him to see and hear jets training in the area.

The two-seat McDonnell Douglas T-45 Goshawk can reach speeds of up to 645 mph.

In April, the Navy grounded some of its T-45 training jets after instructor pilots expressed concerns about the aircrafts’ oxygen systems.

More than 100 instructors refused to fly the planes, citing a spike in symptoms triggered by a lack of oxygen or contaminants in oxygen systems.

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