Military plane, possibly Navy aircraft, crashes in Monroe County

(Courtesy: WATE)

TELLICO PLAINS, Tenn. (AP) – U.S. Navy officials say an instructor and a student pilot have died in a plane crash in southeastern Tennessee.

The T-45 Goshawk training jet crashed Sunday afternoon in Tellico Plains, about 45 miles (70 kilometers) southwest of Knoxville.

Lt. Liz Feaster said Monday that the names of the two who died are being withheld until 24 hours after family members are notified.

Monroe County Emergency Management Director David Chambers estimates that the crash in the Cherokee National Forest left a debris field at least a half-mile (1 kilometer) long.

The plane was based at Naval Air Station Meridian in Mississippi, part of one of five naval air training wings.

The Navy is investigating the cause of the crash. It also released an official statement:

At approximately 6 p.m., Training Air Wing ONE, based at Naval Air Station (NAS) Meridian, Miss., was made aware of the reports of a jet crash near Tellico Plains, Tenn., in the Cherokee National Forest.

Training Air Wing ONE and CNATRA are investigating the possibility that it is a T-45 from Training Air Wing ONE based out of NAS Meridian, Miss.

At this time, we know the wing had a T-45C Goshawk training in the vicinity of Tellico Plains that has not yet returned to the air station.

Two pilots were aboard the aircraft, an instructor and a student. Their status is unknown at this time.