Sun, Nov 12, 2017 - Page 3 News List

Pollution hampers search for pilot of missing jet

By Lo Tien-pin and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporters, with staff writer

Detritus on the sea is hampering search-and-rescue efforts to locate the pilot of a Mirage 2000 jet that disappeared without a trace on Wednesday, the Ministry of National Defense said.

While visiting Hsinchu Air Base yesterday for a briefing with Air Force Commander General Shen Yi-ming (沈一鳴), Chief of General Staff Admiral Lee Hsi-ming (李喜明) said he had sent instructions to continue the search-and-rescue mission.

All units participating in the operation must maintain contact with the base and report even the most minute details, he said.

Expeditiousness, while necessary, cannot supersede the safety of those conducting the search, Lee said, adding that he hoped the efforts by the air force and navy would bring the pilot, Captain Ho Tzu-yu (何子雨), back safely.

The military said it had been combing the area as thoroughly as possible, and on Friday delivered crew and underwater sonar receptors to a Chengkung-class frigate that is taking part in the search.

However, searchers grew more disappointed with each piece of waste and every oil stain that they investigated, the ministry said.

The operation has uncovered severe oceanic pollution, which is not only detrimental to the environment, but also complicates naval search-and-rescue missions, the ministry said, adding that people should do more to protect the environment and the Earth.

Meanwhile, the ministry’s Youth Daily News produced a short video of interviews it conducted with the ground crew that services the 499th Tactical Fighter Wing to shed light on the pressure fighter pilots face during training.

The pilots’ spouses said they never know when their partners’ training begins or ends.

One of the pilots said they would always call their spouse after an exercise to tell them they had landed.

Minister of National Defense Feng Shih-kuan (馮世寬) was also interviewed, and he talked about his days as a pilot.

“Back then, no one knew if they would ever make it back,” Feng said, adding that he and his colleagues nevertheless preferred the cockpit and were always ready.

Every time a fighter jet takes off, there is a chance it will never return, but everyone accepts this, because it is “our raison d’etre” as soldiers, flight instructor Hsu Hung-chun (徐鴻鈞) said.

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