Helmet of missing Air Force pilot found | Inquirer News

Helmet of missing Air Force pilot found

By: - Reporter / @NikkoDizonINQ
/ 02:23 AM July 07, 2013

MANILA, Philippines—The helmet of one of the two missing Philippine Air Force pilots was found by a fisherman floating off an island near Palawan on Friday, the PAF said in a statement on Saturday.

The two pilots, however, have yet to be found.

As this developed, PAF chief Lt. Gen. Lauro Catalino de la Cruz assured the public there would be no letup in the search for Maj. Jonathan Ybanez and Lt. Abner Trust Nacion whose OV-10 Bronco crashed off Palawan two weeks ago during a night proficiency test flight.


“We will pursue the search for the wreckage as it will provide the investigators enough evidence to ascertain the cause of the crash and eventually the fate of the pilots,” De la Cruz said in the PAF statement.


A source close to the families of the missing pilots told the Inquirer the recovered helmet belonged to Ybanez.

Two weeks after the crash, the PAF still calls its operation a “search and rescue,” indicating that it had not lost hope of finding the pilots alive.

On Air Force Day on July 1, PAF spokesperson Col. Miguel Ernesto Okol recounted to reporters that in the 1960s, an Air Force pilot who was thought to have died in a crash in Kalinga province emerged from the jungles alive months after his military plane went down.

According to the PAF statement, fisherman Ludivir Nunez spotted the helmet floating some two miles south off Sombrero Island and alerted the 570th Composite Tactical Wing based in Palawan about his discovery.

The helmet was confirmed by the Joint Task Force Bronco as belonging to the two missing pilots.

According to the Air Force, the task force has been “continually searching the most probable locations of the aircraft for the past 13 days using all available assets at their disposal.”


These include sonar, on underwater sound propagation technology that hopes to pick up clues of the crash in the vicinity where the Bronco was last monitored, taking into consideration that the sea current may have moved the plane, and a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) lent by the oil and gas company Pilipinas Shell.

Personnel from the 570th Composite Tactical Wing have also been combing coastlines and nearby islands while the Naval Special Operations Group (Navsog) is conducting a surface search in the vicinity of the crash.

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On Saturday, the JTF Bronco was scheduled to continue with the search and rescue operations south of the suspected crash site down to Rasa Island. Underwater camera equipment of the DOST (Department of Science and Technology), and Philippine Navy and Coast Guard vessels with side scanning sonar would assist in the search,” the Air Force statement said.

TAGS: PAF, Palawan

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