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Wreckage of Lost American F-15s FoundAired March 27, 2001 - 7:34 a.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CAROL LIN, CNN ANCHOR: Search teams have found the wreckage of two F-15s -- what they believe to be two F-15s -- of American pilots who were flying on a routine training mission in the skies over the Scottish Highlands.
Joining me now on the telephone is the spokesperson for the Royal Air Force of Great Britain, Michael Mulford.
Mr. Mulford, can you tell us exactly what you found?
MICHAEL MULFORD, PRESS CAPTAIN, ROYAL AIR FORCE: Well, I can tell you that about 100 feet from the top of what is called Ben Macdui, which is 3,500 feet, with temperatures of minus 24, 40 knot winds, and a complete whiteout of snow, the Royal Air Force Mountain Rescue Team has found the wreckage of one aircraft, and significantly, it has found three spare fuel tanks, which we know that these aircraft were carrying.
Now, at the moment, we have not found the second aircraft, and we cannot establish where the two pilots have gone or where they have landed, so to speak. The story is breaking as we speak, but it is quite clear, in my own mind, that we have found the wreckage of at least one F-15.
LIN: All right, so this was clearly on the path that the F-15s were training on, but you're saying that you have found no human remains. Do you have any evidence that these pilots survived the crash?
MULFORD: There is no evidence that they survived. I think the critical factor is that their personal locator beacons did not activate, and that, I'm afraid, is normally associated with the total loss of the aircraft. They were certainly on the path where we had them on radar, and they disappeared at or about that spot.
And I think it's sad to reflect that this is a search without a happy ending.
LIN: All right, will this be a search that takes place on the ground as well as the air, and if so, what kind of terrain will you be dealing with?
MULFORD: Well, we're dealing here with a very steep mountain of about 3,500 feet. They're very far up that mountain. The rescue teams are literally unable to see beyond the end of their arms. But they've decided to carry on searching, in a humane attempt to find the pilots. The weather is closing in so badly that they may well have to abandon this search for some days.
LIN: Well, Mr. Mulford, you don't sound optimistic that you're going to find these pilots alive. Are you attributing that to the nature of the debris that you found, or are you attributing that to the weather conditions and the terrain?
MULFORD: Well, I don't think it's possible that anyone would have survived the crash, and certainly, in my own mind, I don't think anyone could survive in that weather for more than a few minutes. Our own rescue teams are extremely well equipped for the exercise up there, but even they are struggling very badly at this point.
LIN: All right, can you give us an idea of what the wreckage looked like?
MULFORD: It's simply a report of aircraft wreckage. The three identifiable parts, at this point, are the spare fuel tanks. Now, we know that these aircraft were carrying spare fuel tanks for that exercise, and I think that's what points us certainly in that direction, although I do say we cannot confirm it absolutely, for this is breaking news, after all.
LIN: Yes, absolutely.
Thank you very much, Michael Mulford, spokesperson for the Royal Air Force, from the Royal Air Force rescue station.
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