Campbell Co., VA - Col Jim Molloy (Ret.), Dean of the Liberty University School of Aeronautics, served with the pilot killed in the F-15C crash in Augusta County this week.
The Massachusetts Air National Guard identified the pilot as Lt Col Morris Fontenot, Jr., a veteran pilot with more than 17 years experience in jets.
Molloy was stationed with Fontenot at Mountain Home Air Force Base in Idaho. Molloy learned his friend and fellow pilot was involved in the crash on social media.
Molloy also flew the F-15C for about half of his 30 year Air Force career. He said it is a very safe aircraft, that can be landed in almost any situation. Molloy said ejections are rare, last resorts, the pilots train for in simulators.
"The first thought is, who is it? And then the second thought is, how could this have happened?," said Molloy. "The aircraft are very safe, especially during training missions. They are very safe. You just wonder how could this have possibly have happened."
Molloy said the F-15C is a jet used to protect airspace from the enemy. It does not carry bombs like an F-15E. Also unlike the E, which carries a two man crew, there's only a pilot onboard the C. That is the first indication of how many people to look for after a crash, according to Molloy.