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|Friday, April 06, 2001, updated at 20:48(GMT+8)|
Second Pilot Recalls Collision of US, Chinese PlanesWang Wei, the missing pilot who was involved in the collision incident between the US and Chinese military planes, was communicating with his colleague before his F-8 fighter plunged into the sea.
Zhao Yu, the pilot of the other Chinese jet fighter which returned safely, said Friday that when he found the vertical tail wing of Wang's jet was hit and shattered into pieces by a left propeller of the US spy plane, he sent an emergency message to Wang.
"Watch out! Your vertical tail has been knocked off," alerted Zhao, a commander of the Chinese Navy.
Recalling the incident that took place in the airspace over South China Sea five days ago, Zhao said:
"On April 1, Wang Wei and I were on duty. There were few clouds in the sky, and visibility was over 10 kilometers. We took off at 8:45 a.m. on a tracking mission in the airspace southeast of Hainan Island," said Zhao.
"After some seven minutes, we sighted a big plane 20 degrees to the left and 50 kilometers ahead of us," he said.
The two pilots soon identified the target to be a US EP-3 electronic reconnaissance plane. In recent years, US military planes have frequently flown into the airspace close to China's Hainan Island on spying missions, which pose serious threat to China's national security.
"The course of the US plane was at 240 degrees. When it found us, it immediately adjusted its course to 40 degrees and we followed suit.
At 9:05 a.m., the US plane adjusted its course direction to 110 degrees; we did the same and flew in parallel with it at the same speed. At that time, our planes were flying closer to the coast of the Island, about 400 meters away from the US plane," Zhao said.
Zhao said it is the pilots' duty to trace and monitor any aircraft that may endanger China's national security.
At 9:07 a.m., the US plane abruptly veered towards Wang's plane. Zhao saw the US EP-3's nose and left wing bumped into Wang's jet, and the propeller on the EP-3's left wing smashed the jet's vertical tail wing into pieces.
Zhao warned Wang of the danger and asked Wang to try to keep control of his plane, and Wang responded "I see."
Some 30 seconds later, Zhao saw Wang's jet lost control, rolled to the right and plunged.
"Wang requested to parachute and I said 'OK,' then I lost radio contact with him," said Zhao.
"I immediately lowered my plane to 3,000 meters, finding Wang's plane had plunged into the sea and a stabilizing chute of the pilot's seat and an escapechute were flying in the air.
"I made a circle flight to locate Wang's position and then returned to ground. I landed safely at 9:23 a.m.
"Ten minutes later, the US plane landed at the Lingshui Airport without permission from our side," Zhao said.
The Chinese navy started a search-and-rescue mission right away. The search is still going on, with civilian ships joining the navy's warships and planes.
Zhao, deeply worried about his missing colleague, is anxious to find Wang.
"It is the US plane that violated flight rules and veered abruptly, making it impossible for Wang to avoid the collision. The U.S. side is therefore fully responsible for the incident," he said.
Zhao, indignant over the US act, said "it's barbaric of the US plane to ram and ruin our jet right at our doorstep."
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