Navy officials haven’t yet confirmed whether the reported T-45 Goshawk training aircraft that crashed Sunday in eastern Tennessee’s Cherokee National Forest is in fact the Navy T-45 jet that had been reported missing.
The crash is the latest episode in a problematic history for the T-45, an aircraft that has been plagued with oxygen system failures, resulting in a Navy-wide grounding of the training jets in April.
“We are trying to determine if the jet that crashed is, in fact, a T-45 aircraft from Training Wing One that was on a training flight from Knoxville to Meridian, Miss., yesterday that is currently unaccounted for,” said Lt. Elizabeth Feaster, spokesperson for the Chief of Naval Air Training.
“A team of investigators is currently on their way to the crash site to determine if this aircraft is ours.”
The aircraft that was reported missing is based at Naval Air Station Meridian, one of several training bases for new Navy pilots.
The whereabouts and the condition of the crew is unknown at this time.
The Associated Press quoted Monroe County Emergency Management Director David Chambers as saying the crash occurred near the town of Tellico Plains, about 45 miles southwest of Knoxville.
Feaster confirmed that the flight path of the crashed plane was near where the Navy aircraft would have flown after leaving Knoxville.
Feaster added that the crash is in a particularly dense part of the forest, making it difficult to determine when the Navy would be able to confirm if the wreckage is indeed the missing Navy aircraft.
The field of debris is estimated to be at least a half-mile long, according to Chambers.
Mark D. Faram is a former reporter for Navy Times. He was a senior writer covering personnel, cultural and historical issues. A nine-year active duty Navy veteran, Faram served from 1978 to 1987 as a Navy Diver and photographer.