Wed, Jan 27, 2010 - Page 2 News List

Training plane disappears

FOGGYAlthough no extraordinary weather conditions were recorded near where the T-34 plane disappeared from radar, search and rescue teams reported thick fog

By Jimmy Chuang  /  STAFF REPORTER, WITH CNA

A 26-year-old T-34 training plane from the Air Force Academy disappeared from radar screens yesterday afternoon during a routine training flight, with two pilots aboard, the Air Force Command Headquarters said.

The two officers were 25-year-old Second Lieutenant Chen Tse-yu (陳澤宇), who graduated from the academy in 2008 and had 110 hours of flight time, and 48-year-old flight instructor Yau Chien-bao (饒健保), who had 4,235 hours under his belt.

The two men were still missing as of press time.

Colonel Chang Kuo-hua (張國華), spokesman for the academy, said in a press statement that the T-34, flown by Chen, took off from the academy at 1:05pm in the air space west of Kangshan (岡山) in Kaohsiung County. The plane disappeared from radar screens at around 1:40pm as it approached Namasia Township (那瑪夏), ­Kaohsiung County, he said.

He said that the aircraft was produced in 1984 and had logged a total of 6,969 flight hours.

Chang said that no extraordinary weather conditions were recorded when the T-34 disappeared from the radar screen and tower controllers did not receive any distress calls from the plane.

“Rescuers at the scene reported that heavy fog was observed, but their work continued,” Chang said.

Kaohsiung County Fire ­Department said that a team of 30 rescuers had been searching for the two pilots and the aircraft near where they lost contact with the plane.

“The rescue work has been slowed down by the heavy fog and poor road conditions in the area. Rescuers must continue their work on foot,” said Su Ding-kuo (蘇定國), captain for the department’s Third Division.

MISSING FISHING BOAT

Meanwhile, a Taiwanese fishing boat that had been reported missing near Midway Island in the North Pacific Ocean was located, with all 12 crew members in good shape, fishery industry sources said yesterday.

The 80 tonne Shunfuyu 86 (順福漁) sent out a mayday signal late on Monday but could not be contacted because its satellite phone was out of commission.

A US Air Force plane launched a search early yesterday and eventually located the ship near Midway Island following collaboration with commercial vessels in the area, said Lin Yueh-ying, ­secretary-general of the Suao Fishery Association in Yilan County.

“The ship has lost power and is adrift ... but fortunately, all crew members aboard are safe and well,” Lin said.

A Taiwanese fishing boat from Pingtung County’s Siaoliouchiou (小琉球) Township was going to the assistance of the stricken vessel.

The National Search and Rescue Command Center said the US Air Force dispatched a plane on Monday night to search for the vessel but was forced to abort the mission because of strong winds.

Six of the boat’s crew are Indonesian, three are Chinese, one is Filipino and two are Taiwanese, said the Suao Fishery Radio station in Yilan County, where the boat is registered.

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