Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Search Continues For Missing Navy Aircraft & 4 Aviators

The search for four aviators missing after their Navy aircraft failed to make its scheduled arrival time at Pensacola Naval Air Station will continue Today, officials said. The Navy T-39 Sabreliner was scheduled to arrive in Pensacola around 3 p.m. Tuesday, said Lt. j.g. Sean Robertson, Navy South Region public affairs officer. A Navy instructor, a Navy student, an Air Force student and a civilian contract pilot were aboard the Sabreliner, Robertson said. Their identities have not been released.
T-39 Sabreliner
The aircraft was assigned to Training Squadron 86. It took off for a navigation training mission around 11 a.m. from Chattanooga, Tenn. The last radio contact came at 11:20 a.m. when the pilot contacted the national center, Robertson said. "All we know is the aircraft made contact, and we haven't heard anything since," he said. Navy officials declined to disclose the aircraft's route, whether it carried distress or locator beacons and where authorities were searching. The Coast Guard station in Mobile, Ala., which conducts searches for aircraft reported missing over the Gulf of Mexico, was not asked to join the search, said Steve Lewallen, a civilian who works at the Coast Guard operations in Mobile. Two Sabreliners collided in midair about 40 miles south of Pensacola Beach in May 2002, killing seven aviators. The jets are used for training navigators and other non-pilot air crew officers for the Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force and foreign military services.

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