Update: Missing F-16 Pilot Identified

Published 11/06 2014 02:25PM

Updated 11/07 2014 07:19PM

Tyndall officials have identified the F-16 pilot involved in Thursday’s crash as Mr. Matthew J. LaCourse, age 58, of Panama City Beach.

LaCourse was a Department of the Air Force Civilian Pilot assigned to the 82nd Aerial Targets Squadron.  A native of San Antonio, TX, LaCourse graduated from the Air Force Academy in 1978, and retired as a USAF Lieutenant Colonel in 2000 with more than 22 years’ service. 

Recovery operations continue to collect evidence to assist qualified officers assembled to conduct Safety and Accident investigations into the cause of this crash.  There will be no further details released about this incident until these investigations are completed.

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Tyndall Air Force Base Public Affairs says the remains of the F-16 pilot involved in Thursday’s tragic accident have been recovered from the Gulf of Mexico.

The name of the Airman is being withheld until 24 hours after notification of his next of kin allowing the immediate family time to notify extended family members of the accident.

Base efforts will now shift from that of a rescue mission to a recovery operation as evidence is collected to help in determining the cause of the crash. A board of qualified officers has been assembled to conduct this investigation and no additional information about the accident will be released until the investigation is complete.

Information Provided by 325th Fighter Wing Public Affairs


Tyndall Air Force Base held a news conference Thursday afternoon following the crash of a F16. 

Colonel Derek France, the 325th Fighter Wind Commander, says the F16 was part of the 53rd Weapons Evaluation group. The Colonel says they lost communication with the aircraft around 9:15 a.m. Thursday morning. France says plane parts were discovered Thursday morning nearly 60 miles from Panama City over the Gulf of Mexico where training missions are conducted. 

Col. France says it was a routine training mission and the investigation into what happened is on-going. He says the prime mission is to locate the pilot. The name of the pilot is not being released at this time but Tyndall Air Force Base officials are in contact with his family. 


TYNDALL AIRCRAFT MISSING
TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. – "The US Coast Guard, supported by  Tyndall AFB officials, is currently conducting search and rescue efforts following the loss of communication with a Tyndall-based F-16 aircraft early this morning.
 
The aircraft, assigned to the 53rd Weapons Evaluation Group, was performing a routine training mission over the Gulf of Mexico when the base lost contact with the pilot at approximately 9:15 a.m.  Aircraft and rescue forces were immediately dispatched to the missing jet's last known location.
 
While the aircraft has not been found, search teams are working under the assumption that the aircraft has crashed into the water.
 
"The rescue of our Airman is our top priority," said Col. Mark O'Laughlin, 325 Fighter Wing Vice Commander.
 
"We want to assure the family and friends of the missing pilot that we are doing everything we can for this effort."
 
Base officials are encouraging anyone that might have information relevant to today’s incident please contact the 325 Fighter Wing Public Affairs office at (850) 283-4500.
 
A representative from the base will be available for an official statement at 4 p.m. today at the base visitor center. More information will be released as it becomes available.
For information about the F-16, please view the fact sheet here(http://www.af.mil/AboutUs/FactSheets/Display/tabid/224/Article/104505/f-16-fighting-falcon.aspx).
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Coast Guard responds to report of downed military aircraft near Panama City
NEW ORLEANS - The Coast Guard is responding to a report of a downed military aircraft approximately 57 miles south of Panama City, Florida, Thursday.
Watchstanders at the 8th Coast Guard District received a call from the Air Force at approximately 9:30 a.m., reporting a downed military aircraft with one person aboard.
Responding assets are:
  • Coast Guard Cutter Bonito
  • Coast Guard Station Panama City 45-foot Response Boat - Medium crew
  • Coast Guard Aviation Training Center Mobile HC-144 Ocean Sentry fixed-wing aircraft crew
  • Coast Guard Air Station Clearwater MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew
The incident is under investigation.
For more information on the aircraft and its operations please contact Mr. Herman Bell, Chief 325 Fighter Wing Public Affairs at (850) 283-4500.
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Tyndall Air Force Base public affairs office says they lost contact with a F16 around 9:15 a.m. Thursday morning.

At this point, they would not release any further details but said that a representative from their office would get back in touch with us. 

We will bring you more information as soon as it becomes available. 

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