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Search team spots wreckage of missing F-16

January 9, 1997

TWO HARBORS, Minn. (AP) _ Wreckage of a missing Minnesota Air National Guard fighter jet was found this morning, but the fate of the pilot was unknown.

The wreckage, first spotted by a Coast Guard helicopter, was located on the eastern edge of Greenwood Lake, about 35 miles north of here in a remote area of northeastern Minnesota. The guard said crews in the helicopter reported seeing the engine and a piece of the aircraft.

A ground rescue team was en route to the site, said Maj. Denis Shields.

Guard officials had held out hope that the missing pilot, Maj. Peter M. Woodbury, 38, of Duluth, was still alive, noting that he was trained in winter survival, was wearing warm clothes and carried survival gear. Late this morning, they would only say that the pilot was still missing.

The search area stretched out over dense forest and peat bogs near Greenwood Lake, some 50 miles south of the Canadian border. Snow, waist-deep in the woods, had hampered any ground search.

Woodbury, who is married and has three children, is a full-time pilot for Northwest Airlines.

The F-16 disappeared from radar during training exercises Tuesday evening. The jet was one of four simulating an air-combat interception. There were no radio transmissions or distress signals from the pilot before his disappearance.

Any recovery effort was expected to be a formidable challenge.

``I don’t think it’s even snowshoe-able,″ Lake County Sheriff Andy Haugan said of the deep snow. ``Even on snowshoes, you’d sink to your knees in there.″

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