Thu, Jul 16, 2009 - Page 1 News List

Two air force pilots killed in crash

By Jimmy Chuang  /  STAFF REPORTER, WITH AFP AND CNA

The air force grounded its F-5 fighter jet fleet yesterday after a crash off Penghu during a routine training mission killed two pilots.

“All F-5F-related training projects have been suspended until a thorough safety check is completed,”Cingcyuangang Air Force Base spokesman Colonel Hsieh Mao-sung (謝茂淞) said.

The F-5F twin-seat jet fighter took off from Cingcyuangang (清泉崗) air base in Taichung at 11:14am for a live fire exercise on a reef in Penghu, but disappeared from radar screens at 11:36am, Air Force Command Headquarters said in a statement.

An air force S-70C rescue plane flew to Penghu to conduct search and rescue operations, the statement said.

“We have discovered pieces of the plane and some body parts,” Hsieh told a press conference at 5pm. “But we still need further confirmation to determine whether they belonged to the pilots.”

The F-5F, a reconnaissance plane and trainer, belonged to the Air Force’s Fleet 737.

It was being flown by Lieutenant Huang Ting-yu (黃挺瑜), 26, while flight instructor Lieutenant Colonel Chang Liang-yuan (張良元), 43, was sitting behind him.

Huang was a bachelor who had a flight record of 294 hours, while Chang was the father of two young sons, Hsieh said.

He said the air force had formed a special task force to conduct an investigation.

Taiwan has about 60 F-5s, development of which began in the 1950s.

Hsieh said that the F-5F in yesterday’s crash had been in service for 32 years. During that time, F-5Fs have been involved in 30 accidents, killing 32 pilots.

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