Aviano F-16s Join Search for Missing Pilot

The 31st Fighter Wing at Aviano AB, Italy, launched several of its F-16 fighters on Wednesday to join the ongoing search for Capt. Lucas Gruenther, an Aviano F-16 pilot who went missing during a nighttime training mission over the Adriatic Sea on Monday, according to a base release. “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 Zobrist, 31st FW commander, in the Jan. 30 release. He added, “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.” Gruenther is the wing’s chief of flight safety. “I am hopeful that we will bring Captain Gruenther home safely,” said Zobrist.