March 4, 2008 (by Asif Shamim) - A Taiwanese (RoCAF) F-16 from Hualien AB in East Taiwan has crashed into the sea after losing contact with air traffic controllers. A SAR operation is underway to find the pilot.
RoCAF F-16A block 20 #6706 is pulling up quite sharply after take off from its homebase. This jet is the one believed lost
The incident occurred at 19.18h local time, 28 minutes after the jet, believed to be #6706
took off from Hualien AB. The military has dispatched air force and navy personnel on a helicopter search and rescue mission.
Local fishing vessels and the coast guard are also assiting in the search which is concentrating on area covering 43 nautical miles southeast of Hualien.
Military spokeswoman Chi Yu-lan said the single-seat F-16 fighter was on a routine training mission, and added air force officers were still checking further details about the incident.
Spokesman Yang Feng-shen from Hualien AB identified the pilot as Major Ting Shih-pao, 34. Ting, has logged a total of 1,234.5 hours of flight, including 400 hours with the F-16 fighter jet.
The Major went on to say Ting was on a routine training mission to protect the air space of Eastern Hualien and Taitung counties when the incident took place.
Initial signs show that Ting could have ejected from his F-16, Yang said.
The Taiwanese AF ordered 150 F-16A/B models from the US in the 1990s. Over the years, several of its jets have crashed after developing mechanical trouble.