Update November 18th: Massive resources now deployed to search for missing pilot, pilot now identified as Capt. Jeffrey Haney. Updated post HERE.
The bad news: Crash debris from a missing F-22 fighter aricraft assigned to Joint Base Elmendorf-Fort Richardson has been found. The good news: The pilot's body was not found in the wreckage, so the pilot is presumed to have bailed out, and is now considered "missing". The pilot could still be alive.
The Anchorage Daily News reports that searchers have just found wreckage believed to be that of the missing F-22 in an area 100 miles north of Anchorage and east of Cantwell, near Denali National Park. The search for the pilot continues in the same area. The F-22, which carries one pilot, was on a nighttime training mission and lost contact with air traffic control at 7:40 p.m. on Tuesday November 16th, 2010. The F-22 was flying with another plane, which also lost contact with it. The missing F-22 is assigned to Elmendorf's 3rd Wing; the Air Force will not release the pilot's name until the pilot's status is resolved. See initial USAF statement HERE and Air Force Times report HERE. KTUU Channel 2 news video now embedded below:
Weather conditions should remain favorable for the search during the next 24 hours. Cloud ceilings are expected to remain at 20,000 feet or higher, with no threat of precipitation. Winds are expected to be light. Nighttime temperatures are falling to -15F, and daytime temperatures rising to +15F. This is based on observations from Cantwell and Denali Park, and the official NWS forecast for Talkeetna. According to Col. Jack McMullen, the pilot is prepared for subzero weather. Pilots assigned to Alaska have survival gear; they're Arctic-trained to survive in that environment. Most likely the pilot's got the gear on, and has stuff in the survival kit in order to hunker down and fight the extreme cold.
According to discussion on Military.com, if there was an ejection it should have set off an emergency beacon in the seat pan. This could aid searchers, presuming that the beacon works.
"Last night a 'two-ship' of F-22s, Rocky one and Rocky three, were finished with training ... about 100 miles north of here," McMullen said.
Everything was normal until about 7:40 p.m., McMullen said, when Rocky three fell off the radar scope and the pilot lost communications.
"The other pilot (Rocky one) went to a tanker, got gas and then continued to look for the mishap pilot," McMullen continued. "He could not find him. At that time, the Alaska Air National Guard scrambled a C-130 and rescue helicopters. They searched the entire night."
About 10:15 a.m., an Alaska Air National Guard helicopter found a site that fits the data and the description of where we thought the mishap probably occurred, McMullen said.