News Icon

News: Aviano F-16s augment search operation for missing pilot

Story by Maj. Erick SaksSmall RSS IconSubscriptions Icon

AVIANO AIR BASE, Italy - The 31st Fighter Wing launched several of its F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft this afternoon to join the ongoing search effort for a U.S. Air Force fighter pilot who was declared missing during a nighttime training mission Jan. 28.

The fighter jets will provide further assistance to the robust rescue operation already underway, joining U.S. and Italian aircraft and ships. Capt. Lucas Gruenther, 31st Fighter Wing chief of flight safety, was conducting an F-16 training sortie over the Adriatic Sea when contact was lost with his aircraft.

"While not specifically designed for reconnaissance like the other aircraft already involved in the search, our F-16s have targeting pods which can be used to augment the search," said Brig. Gen Scott J. Zobrist, 31st Fighter Wing commander. "The weather and size of the search area have limited our ability to provide assistance with F-16s up to this point; however, now that the ships and reconnaissance aircraft have refined the search area, we hope to help by putting more sensors and eyes out there.

"The search operation in the Adriatic is truly expansive," Zobrist added. "I'm grateful to the many Italian and U.S. professionals who are executing this mission, and I am hopeful that we will bring Captain Gruenther home safely."

More information will be released as it becomes available. A board of officers will investigate the incident.

Connected Media
VideoF-16 Launches-Aviano AB
F-16's Launch from Aviano AB in support of search and...

Web Views

Podcast Hits

Public Domain Mark
This work, Aviano F-16s augment search operation for missing pilot, by Maj. Erick Saks, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.

Date Taken:01.30.2013

Date Posted:01.30.2013 10:12


More Like This

  • In an attempt to augment U.S. military presence in the region, twelve 555th Fighter Squadron F-16 Fighting Falcons and approximately 200 personnel assigned to the 31st Fighter Wing at Aviano Air Base, Italy, arrived at the U.S. Air Force Aviation Detachment here, March 14-15.
  • An Air Force Reserve pilot assigned to the 419th Fighter Wing made history today as he became the only pilot to amass 6,000 flying hours in the F-16 Fighting Falcon.
  • The year was 1987 and it was a good time to be a fighter pilot. The movie "Top Gun" had been released the year before and a newly pinned Air Force officer was beginning his career as a pilot in the top-of-the-line F-16 "Fighting Falcon" fighter.
  • Col. Patrick McKenzie, 51st Fighter Wing commander, joined a small elite group of pilots by reaching 3,000 hours in an F-16 Fighting Falcon at Osan, March 28, 2013.

News Tags


  • Army
  • Marines
  • Navy
  • Air Force
  • Coast Guard
  • National Guard




  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Youtube
  • Flickr