An air force T-34 training aircraft experienced engine failure yesterday morning during a training flight and was forced to make an emergency landing next to a river in Pingtung County.
Liu Chien-kuo (劉建國), a spokesman for the Republic of China Air Force Academy’s Flight Training Command, told reporters that the single-engine aircraft took off from the academy in Gangshan District (岡山), Greater Kaohsiung, at 11:01am on a routine training flight.
Fifteen minutes later, the pilots reported to the control tower that they were experiencing problems with the aircraft’s engine and that they might have to execute an emergency landing.
The aircraft landed at 11:26am next to the Gaoping River (高屏溪) near the Gaoshu Bridge.
Ten minutes later, an air force helicopter picked up the two pilots and took them to Gangshan Armed Forces Hospital for checkups, Liu said.
The pair — flight instructor Colonel Lai Wen-yu (賴紋由), 45, and the pilot, Second Lieutenant Chen Hou-chun (陳厚郡), 23 — were fine, Liu added.
Chi Pi-lieh (祁丕烈), director of the academy’s Political Warfare Department, told reporters that Lai, who he described as an experienced pilot, made the emergency landing after the control tower concluded that the measure was necessary.
“Lai managed the emergency well,” Chi said, adding that the academy was investigating the cause of the engine problems.
The ageing T-34 does not have an automatic eject mechanism and pilots must open the cockpit hatch manually to escape.
Two T-34s crashed separately in what was then Kaohsiung County in January and December last year, killing a total of four pilots.
The air force purchased 44 T-34s from the US in 1980 and began using them as its main training aircraft in May 1985.