2 Philippine Air Force pilots killed in training flight crash

Jojo Riñoza
Dagupan, Philippines
2 Philippine Air Force pilots killed in training flight crash Officials examine the wreckage of a Philippine Air Force plane that crashed in a rice paddy in Bataan province, killing two pilots, Jan. 25, 2023.
Handout photo/Philippine Air Force

Two air force pilots died when their plane crashed during a training flight in the northern Philippines on Wednesday, military officials said, while a search was under way for a small civilian aircraft that went missing with six people aboard a day earlier.

The Philippine Air Force said the pilots were flying the Marchetti SF-260, a turboprop plane with the 15th Strike Wing, on a training mission from a base near Manila when it crashed in a rice paddy in Bataan province. 

“At around 10:40 a.m., the aircraft was reportedly seen to be descending to a field in Sitio Tabon, Barangay del Rosario in Pilar, Bataan where it eventually crashed,” Col. Ma. Consuelo Castillo, the spokeswoman, said in a statement. “Two PAF pilots perished in the mishap while no civilian casualties were reported.” 

The military did not release the victims’ names. The spokeswoman said an investigation team traveled to the crash site.

Castillo said the turboprop was “highly maneuverable and fully aerobatic basic trainer aircraft of the PAF that serves as a light attack-combat aircraft.” 

This type of plane was used against armed Islamic State extremists, who had taken over the southern city of Marawi in 2017, to provide aerial cover to ground troops chasing the militants. The five-month battle killed more than 1,200 militants, government troops as well as civilians and destroyed parts of the city. 

Cessna missing

Meanwhile on Tuesday afternoon, a Cessna airplane carrying six people took off for a planned 30-minute flight from the Cauayan Airport in Isabela province, but never arrived at its destination, officials said. 

Castillo, the air force spokeswoman, told reporters on Wednesday that the military branch had joined in the search for the civilian plane.

Bad weather forced the Civil Aviation Authority to suspend those efforts later in the day, the state-run Philippine News Agency reported.

The crash of the trainer plane was the latest disaster to strike the Philippine military’s largely aging air fleets. 

Among recent disasters, an Air Force helicopter used as an air ambulance crashed in September 2020 while heading to the southern island of Jolo. Four crew members were killed.

Two months earlier, four soldiers died when their UH-1H Vietnam-era craft, commonly known as a Huey, crashed after takeoff in Isabela province.

In January 2021, seven troops died when their Huey went down in the mountains of Bukidnon province. 

That June, an S-70i Black Hawk chopper crashed during a training mission near the Crow Valley in Pampanga province, killing all six onboard. 

Jeoffrey Maitem in Davao, southern Philippines, contributed to this report.


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