Wed, Jun 25, 2003
C-141 Guides Lost Convair
A C-141 Starlifter aircrew from
March Air Reserve Base (CA) led three people on a civilian cargo
aircraft to safety after an apparent navigational-equipment
malfunction caused them to become disoriented in bad weather off
the coast of New Zealand.
"They appeared to have no reliable navigational fix," navigator
Maj. Jeff Puckett told a TV news crew. "That’s not a good
place to be over the South Pacific."
The two Canadian pilots and a New Zealander engineer were flying
a twin-engine Convair 580 (file photo below) from American Samoa to
New Zealand on June 18 when air traffic controllers became
concerned the aircraft had not appeared on their radar 20 minutes
before its scheduled landing.
The controllers contacted the plane but lost the connection
before determining its location. Officials at the National Rescue
Coordination Center in Wellington launched a rescue effort and
contacted the March reservists, who were on their way to
Christchurch, New Zealand, to participate in aircraft software
testing. The aircrew from the 452nd Air Mobility Wing flew east and
within an hour made contact with the aircraft about 250 nautical
miles off the country’s coast.
"The sound of their voices indicated they were very happy to see
our aircraft," said Lt. Col. Jeffrey Richenberger, the C-141
The Air Force Reserve Command crew directed the civilian pilot
to turn on his emergency locator beacon, and they escorted the
aircraft to a safe landing at Gisborne, New Zealand.
A malfunction apparently led the civilian crew off course during
their flight. They knew they were in trouble when their instruments
said they were over New Zealand but all they could see was the
Pacific Ocean, the crew said.
[Thanks to Staff Sgt. Kristin Mack, 452nd Air Mobility Wing
Public Affairs, and AFRC News Service --ed.]
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