Air force plane crashes off MarivelesBy Greg Refraccion
Inquirer Central Luzon
BALANGA CITY–A Philippine Air Force training plane crashed off the waters of Mariveles, Bataan, on Friday morning but the fate of its two pilots remains unknown, reports from the PAF and the police said.
Lt. Col. Miguel Okol, PAF spokesperson, said rescue teams were still searching for the pilot and copilot of the SF-260 TP Warrior plane as of press time.
“The PAF is currently conducting search-and-rescue operations for the missing aircraft and its pilots,” he said.
Okol said the ill-fated plane which the PAF acquired in 1994 took off from Sangley Point, Cavite at 6:52 a.m. for a training flight to Corregidor.
When the plane was declared missing after it failed to return at 7:30 a.m. as scheduled, the PAF immediately alerted search-and-rescue teams.
Okol did not identify the pilots until the search is completed and their relatives are informed.
The Bataan police, however, identified the missing pilots, but the Inquirer is withholding their names on PAF’s request.
At 7:15 a.m., the Philippine Coast Guard discovered wreckage believed to be part of the plane near Lamonja Island in Cavite, about an hour’s boat ride from Mariveles.
The Coast Guard also recovered a fuel tank, a helmet and a plane seat.
According to Chief Petty Officer Efren Dichoso, chief of the Mariveles Coast Guard detachment, some fishermen reportedly seeing the plane suddenly crash.
“Basta bigla na lang daw bumagsak (It just suddenly crashed),” he said.
He estimated the plane crash at around 7:15 a.m., and the debris started to be recovered by 7:30 a.m.
According to Okol, the SF260 TP Warrior is an Italian-built aircraft that has been reconfigured from what was originally the PAF’s trainer plane into a light attack combat utility aircraft. With reports from Robert Gonzaga, Tonette Orejas, Dona Z. Pazzibugan and Tina G. Santos