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Bodies of pilots of crashed trainer plane recovered: military

Bodies of pilots of crashed trainer plane recovered: military

Kaohsiung, Jan. 28 (CNA) The bodies of two pilots who were aboard a twin-seater T-34C trainer aircraft that disappeared from radar screens during a routine training flight Tuesday were recovered Thursday from a mountainside in southern Taiwan's Kaohsiung County.
The wreckage of the plane was also found in a pristine mountain forest in the county's Namashia township, said Pan Kung-hsiao, director of the political warfare department at the Air Force Command Headquarters.
The body of Chen Tze-yu, a 25-year-old second lieutenant, was found 30 meters from the fuselage of the plane in a steep ravine, according to a non-commissioned officer who took part in an intensive search for the plane and its pilots.
The body of 48-year-old flight instructor Yao Chien-bao was found beneath the plane's fuselage, the officer said, adding that neither of them had ejected, as their parachutes were still on the plane.
Special services officers from the Eighth Army Corps parachuted into the forest, which is inaccessible by land, to search for the missing plane and pilots early Thursday and spotted the bodies and aircraft wreckage a few hours later.
The bodies were airlifted to the Air Force Academy, where Air Force Commanding General Lei Yu-chi presided over a ceremony in honor of the two deceased pilots.
The plane wreckage was also brought back to the academy for investigation into the cause of the accident.
Pan said the military has formed an ad hoc task force to investigate the cause of the crash. "At the moment, we still cannot determine whether the crash was caused by mechanical failure, human error or environmental factors," he added.
The trainer took off from the academy on a training flight west of Kangshan in Kaohsiung County but lost contact with the military flight control tower and disappeared from the radar screen.
Chen graduated from the Air Force Academy in 2008 and had a flight record of 110 hours, while Yao Chien-bao, with a flight record of 4,235 hours, retired last year but later returned to serve as a flight instructor.
Although Yao had not joined an accident insurance program since his retirement, Pan said the military will seek the best possible compensation terms for the family he leaves behind.
The U.S.-built T-34 trainer planes have been in service for more than 30 years. The Air Force purchased a batch of T-34C planes from the United States in 1985 for basic flight training.
The military grounded all 37 of its T-34C trainers for safety checks after Tuesday's incident, military sources said.
(By Chen Shou-kuo, Wang Shu-fen and Sofia Wu)




Updated : 2021-03-04 21:20 GMT+08:00