Reconnaissance plane crashes in sea, pilot injured
By Brian Hsu
Monday, Oct 13, 2003,Page 2
An RF-5E reconnaissance plane crashed into seas off Hsinchu yesterday morning during a routine training flight and the pilot was rescued by a navy ship, the air force said.
The pilot, Captain Li Ching-hsi (§хјyєі), 33, was picked up after he ejected from the plane by a navy frigate which happened to be cruising nearby. He injured his neck and is hospitalized in stable condition at the air force's hospital in Hsinchu, according to doctors.
It was the first accident involving an RF-5E since the planes went into operation in 1998 but it was the second crash for the air force in less than a month.
Initial investigations by the air force showed that the RF-5E might have crashed because one of its two generators malfunctioned.
Officials said the plane was not carrying any cameras since it was on a flight training exercise.
Captain Pan Yu-yeh (јп·¶·~), who was piloting a second RF-5E plane said he saw flames coming from the belly of his wing leader's plane.
Pan told reporters that Li had said in radio conversations that his plane had developed some generator problems.
"Li said he had problems maneuvering the plane. He decided to eject after making some futile attempts to save his plane. I saw fire coming from his plane's belly," Pan said at a press conference called by air force at the hospital in Hsinchu were Li is being treated.
The accident happened after the No. 5502 RF-5E flown by Li developed generator problems, the air force said. Officials, however, declined to comment on Pan's remarks, saying the cause of the accident has yet to be determined.
The two RF-5Es took off from the Chingchuankang air base at 10:44am. The planes belong to the 4th Reconnaissance Squadron, which has been temporarily deployed to the base while its home base in Taoyuan is under reconstruction.
Li ejected from his plane at 11:10am around 38.6km off Hsinchu's Nanliao fishing port. He was rescued at 12:09pm by the No. 1107 Chengkung-class frigate and later ferried ashore by an air force rescue helicopter.
Related link:Taipei Times