Manila,Philippines – The Philippine Air Force confirmed today that one of its OV-10 Bronco planes crashed in Puerto Princess, Palawan with two pilots reportedly missing after the accident.
On Sunday at 6:37 p.m., two OV-10s with tail numbers 630 and 139 took off for a night flying mission. However, OV-10 #630 lost contact with Palawan Tower and failed to land safely unlike the other twin-engine propeller plane.
Air force spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Miguel Okol said that OV-10 #630 failed to land back to an air strip on the western island of Palawan on Sunday night.
“What we can confirm (is that the OV-10) went down already. That is something we know for sure,” Okol said in an interview with a radio station.
His statement was backed up when both the Coast Guard and Navy found debris from OV-10 #630 including its cargo bay door on Monday at 9:30 a.m.
“Combined elements of the coastguard and the navy have found parts of the debris and it appears to be the rear cargo compartment of the vessel,” Okol said.
“We are still holding out hope that the two pilots were able to eject, we are searching for them,” he added.
Okol said that the last transmission of the aircraft was when its pilot radioed and requested for “final approach” at the Palawan airport 53 minutes after the first PAF plane landed.
Okol, however, said that they cannot speculate yet on what really happened that caused the aircraft to go down. He also pointed out that the weather was clear when the accident happened.
Search for missing pilots on-going
Okol stated that the search for the missing pilots has already started with rescue teams from the Philippine Navy of Naval Forces West and PCG Vessel 3503 deployed for the search and rescue operations.
PCG Palawan district head Commodore Enrico Efren Evangelista said in an interview that the Coast Guard sent frogmen to the site where the mishap aircraft is believed to have gone down to help in finding the missing pilots.
On the other hand, Naval Forces West head Commodore Joseph Peña stated that their rescue operations are focused in an area 11 nautical miles east of the Puerto Princesa Airport where the aircraft took off.
Though the officials withheld the names of the pilots at the moment, Okol said that their relatives have been notified already.
The mishap plane is used as a maritime patrol support aircraft against Muslims and communist insurgents on the southern island of Mindanao. But they are also being used to monitor the extensive coastal area of the archipelago and during search and rescue missions, Okol said.