Bodies of AT-3 pilots found

by Matthew Strong
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – The bodies of the two Air Force officers who vanished with their AT-3 training jet earlier in the week were located in a mountainous area in Central Taiwan, the military said Saturday.

Major Wang Ching-chun, 32, and First Lieutenant Huang Chun-jung, 23, had been only half an hour into a routine training mission Tuesday when their twin-engine jet disappeared off radar screens above a remote inaccessible area close to one of Taiwan’s tallest mountains.

A helicopter team had located possible remains of the aircraft around 6 a.m. Saturday, while a special military forces rescue group found the two bodies inside around noon, the Ministry of National Defense said. They were now trying to bring the bodies to safety through difficult terrain before the arrival of Typhoon Dujuan early next week.

More than a dozen helicopters and other aircraft were mobilized for the search effort, while dozens of specially trained military staff made their way across ravines and along steep mountainsides in search of the plane and its crew.

The military published a vague photograph Saturday which purported to show the wreckage of the plane and the two officers in a forested area.

The plane was found in Nantou County about 1.5 kilometers west of the point where it vanished from radar screens, the military said.

After the disappearance, all AT-3 training jets were ordered grounded. The plane in question was 27 years old but in good state, according to the military. The bodies of Wang and Huang will be transferred to the Gangshan Air Force Academy in Kaohsiung City where they departed from on their final mission, reports said.

(Photo credit: CNA)
Air Force Academy Vice President Huang Chi-wei says in a press conference that the possible wreckage of the AT-D training jet was found. (Photo credit: CNA)
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