Taiwan's twin-seat F-5Fs resume flights after being grounded
Taipei, April 6 (CNA) Several F-5F fighter jets at the Taitung Air Base took to the skies Tuesday for test flights after the Air Force completed a major checkup of its fleet following a deadly F-5E crash on March 22 that led to the grounding of all F-5s.
According to the base, the first two F-5Fs took off at approximately 8 a.m. and returned safely after 40-minute test flights.
Wu Jung-hua (吳榮華), who heads the air base, said Tuesday's mission involved only twin-seat F-5Fs, while test flights for single-seat F-5Es are expected to be carried out soon.
Air Force spokesman Chen Kuo-hua (陳國華) later said the exact timing of the F-5E test flights would be decided after a review of the results of Tuesday's mission.
The Air Force suspended the operation of all of its F-5s for major inspections after the March 22 accident when two single seat F-5E jets brushed against each other in mid-air as they were switching formation off Pingtung County during a training mission.
One of the pilots involved, Lieutenant Lo Shang-hua (羅尚樺), ejected from his aircraft after the collision, but he did not have any vital signs when found at sea and was pronounced dead after being taken to the hospital.
The other pilot, Captain Pan Ying-chun (潘穎諄), is thought to have also ejected from his aircraft, but he has not been found, and the search is still to find him.
Since the accident, a 300-strong search and rescue team has found some personal gear and aircraft debris that belonged to the plane flown by Pan, but there has been no sign of the pilot.
Wu said a memorial service is expected to be held for Lo on Saturday, while a posthumous citation will be presented to his family by President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文).
The procession, he said, will be held on the same scale as that held for Chu Kuan-meng (朱冠甍), who died on Oct. 29 last year after his single-seated F-5E Tiger crashed into the sea after taking off from the Taitung Air Base.
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