Military officials said at a press conference Friday that when ground personnel reached the crash site, three days into the search-and-rescue effort, they found a part of Haney’s ejection seat and some personal gear -- including part of his flight suit.
The Air Force says the state Department of Transportation cleared nearly 75 miles of roadway along the Denali Highway for Army convoys to get through.
Convoys making their way to the site had to stop Thursday because of weather, but rolled out at about 9:30 a.m. Friday.
Col. Jack McMullen, commander of Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson’s 3rd Wing, says finding part of the ejection seat at the crash site shows that Haney didn’t eject from the aircraft before crashing, leading officials to believe he did not survive.
The Air Force was joined by the Alaska National Guard and the Army in the search, but McMullen says it’s now a recovery operation.
The 525th Fighter Squadron F-22 Haney was flying crashed during a training run and disappeared at about 7:40 Tuesday night.
McMullen says there’s a safety team in place collecting and securing evidence of the crash, and there are about 130 people near the crash site.
“It’s in a valley, between a ridge and -- it’s basically a 18 to 20-foot round hole, and it’s got water freeze-over,” McMullen said. “There are some parts of the airplane outside that, but the majority of the airplane is going beneath the earth so it’s going to require some effort to get the airplane out.”
The Air Force says recovery efforts are under way, and are expected to last several weeks. A safety investigation board will meet to determine what caused the crash.
Contact Christine Kim at email@example.com