UPDATED: Body of Missing Former Sheppard Instructor Pilot Found


The Air Force Times is reporting that the body of a missing US Air Force pilot has been recovered.

Captain Lucas Gruenther and his F-16 fighter jet disappeared Monday evening after taking off from Aviano Air Force Base in Italy.

According to the Air Force Times, officials at the base lost contact with Gruenther during a night training mission. On Tuesday, the U.S. Military was able to confirm that debris from his aircraft as well as his helmet and parachute were recovered.

The Air Force Times reports Captain Lucas Gruenther was a graudate of the Air Force Academy and a former instructor pilot at Sheppard.

An archive story on the Sheppard web site shows Gruenther was a T-37 instructor in 2008  with the 80th flying training wing. 

Gruenther is from Twain Hart, California and according to the Modesto Bee Newspaper, he and his wife Casey are expecting their first child in 2 weeks.

While at Sheppard in November 2008, he was one of a select group of pilots in the nation to be honored with a speical Wings Club event in New York City.

He was the Chief of flight safety for the 31st fighter wing at Aviano Air Base in Italy.

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