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Pentagon Officials Investigating Two Aviation MishapsAired March 26, 2001 - 12:00 p.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: We're going to start with our breaking news, and that involves not one, but two different military emergencies involving planes. For the latest, we go to the Pentagon and our military affairs correspondent Jamie McIntyre.
Jamie, first to situation in Scotland where the search is still going for those missing planes.
JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's right, Daryn. Air Force officials are fearing the worst, but hoping for the best on word that two F-15Cs, these are single-seat, air-to-air fighter planes, are missing after what was supposed to be a routine mission over the Scottish Highlands. The planes were using one of a number of ranges up in the northern part of Scotland to do some routine procedures.
I'm told that there was some weather problems. There was a low ceiling. Best case scenario, the Air Force is hoping, U.S. military is hoping that the planes might have had to land. Of course, what they fear is that the planes, which were scheduled to conduct some low-level training missions, might have had an accident and one plane might have followed the other into the ground.
But that is just speculation at this point. A search-and-rescue mission is under way. These F-15s are the one-seat, the single-seat model. They're basically air-to-air planes. They're not ground attack planes. They're the U.S. Air Force's premier air-to-air combat fighter and the two of them were supposed to be on this routine mission.
They were supposed to arrive back at their base at Lakenheath, England, at the RAF base there more than two hours ago. They did not return. They have not been able to contact them on radar. And again, the search under way. Officials hoping for the best, but fearing for the worst -- Daryn.
KAGAN: Jamie, is it odd that two planes would be missing?
MCINTYRE: You mean two in this particular formation?
KAGAN: Well, two at the same time. I could see one running into trouble, but two -- both of them missing at the same time?
MCINTYRE: Well, these planes fly in pairs. There's typically a lead aircraft and then someone flying in what they call the wingman. Now, if they were going through some complicated maneuver in which -- a low-level pass in which one plane was following the other, if the lead plane makes a mistake, it's possible that both planes could end up, say, flying into the countryside.
We don't know if that happened, but that's one of the things you fear when you have two planes together. There's also a possibility they could have run into each other, which would account for both of them being missing. Or it's possible that they could have had to land, some kind of an emergency landing. But in that case, you'd think they would have contacted someone by now.
So, it's still a mystery what happened to these two planes. Again, the fear is that they may have crashed.
KAGAN: More information to be learned on that story. Meanwhile, in an unrelated story, in Germany, an Army plane crashed as well.
MCINTYRE: Yes, well, only related in the sense also that military aviation carries its risks. A U.S. military plane crashes on the average of once a week in the United States or around the world. So, it's unusual to have two of these in one day, but it does appear that from initial reports, that an Army reconnaissance aircraft, what's called an RC-12, appears to have crashed upon trying to land near Nuremberg in Germany.
That's a small propeller -- prop plane that would carry two people. Initial reports from the U.S. European Command is that those two people died in the crash of that small plane. So again, two aviation safety issues today working for the U.S. military, one for the Army and one for the Air Force.
KAGAN: Jamie McIntyre at the Pentagon. Thank you so much. We'll be checking back with you throughout the afternoon for more information on both those stories.
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