November 20, 2010 (by Lieven Dewitte) - The U.S. Air Force confirmed on Friday that the F-22 Raptor pilot that crashed in Alaska earlier this week during a night time training mission perished in the accident.
Air Force officials initially had held out hope that the pilot, Captain Jeffrey Haney, might have ejected from the plane and survived Tuesday night's crash.
"Based on evidence recovered from the crash site, and after two days of extensive aerial and ground search efforts, we know that Captain Haney did not eject from the aircraft prior to impact," Colonel Jack McMullen, commander of the Air Force 3rd Wing at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, said in a statement.
Search teams at the wreckage site, about 100 miles north of Anchorage, found part of Haney's ejection seat and several items the pilot wore during the flight, McMullen said.
"Sadly, we can no longer consider this a search and rescue operation but must now focus on recovery operations," he said.
Haney was married with two children. He joined the Air Force in 2003 and has been at the Anchorage base for 4 1/2 years.
The F-22 took off Tuesday from the joint Air Force and Army base for a training run.
The jet and a second F-22 practised "intercepts" and were nearing completion of the exercise when one aircraft disappeared from ground radar tracking and from communications with the other F-22 at 19:40h local Tuesday.
An air search had been ongoing, with searchers looking for any sign of a parachute or a fire the pilot might have started had he been able to eject from the plane.