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Missing Presidential Chopper Found; All 8 Aboard Killed

April 8, 2009

missing-bell-412-montage

I have a sinking feeling as I write this post.

A dear old friend and brother in arms is one of those aboard that missing Bell 412 helicopter of the Philippine Air Force. 

PAF officials are saying their last radio beacon signal was from Mt. Ulag in La Trinidad Benguet just out of Baguio City.

Additionally, they are also saying the missing chopper is one of two regularly used by Pres. Arroyo herself and on of six brand ne choppers acquired by the Air Force just in 2006 straight from the US anufacturee,

The unit has two engines and has sophisticated navigation tools, including a global satellite positioning system (GPS).

Bell also manufactures the old Huey choppers which served during the Vietnam war but the Bell 412 is a new product.

But soldiers conducting the ground search have not found anything yet.

Press undersecretary Joe Capadocia, JoCap, to his friends is a veteran journalist who has worked in print and broadcast and was a long time member of the Defense Press Corps covering both the police and militsry beats dating back the pre-EDSA days.

I can only pray hard that he and the rest of their 8-member advance party survived the apparent crash or crash landing of their chopper.

bell-412-helicopter

A check of the web site of Bell Helicopters has these claims about the equipment’s airworthiness and dependability:

• Wide opening doors to accommodate a forklift with two ton lifting capabilities. • The highest dispatch reliability of any twin engine aircraft. • An ideal combination of rugged fuselage construction and the proven Pratt & Whitney PT6T-3D Twin Pac engine. • The lowest seat mile cost in its class. • Rupture resistant fuel cells, energy absorbing crew seats and collective mounted throttles as standard equipment. • Flexibility for future growth, with a dual digital automatic flight control system that allows for easy integration of automatic approach to hover and automatic hover capabilities. Proven from the Arctic Circle to the Arabian Gulf, the 412 can operate in conditions that would cripple most other aircraft. It offers the highest dispatch reliability of any twin-engine and is designed with rupture-resistant fuel cells, energy-absorbing crew seats and a resilient fuselage. And most important, confidence in knowing that the helicopter that got you in can also get you out.

http://www.bellhelicopter.com/en/aircraft/commercial/bell412.cfm

But as marketing blurbs go such information can, at best, only be taken at face value.

We can only go on faith that The Almighty will favor those aboard the aircraft if it malfunctions or is overcome by the vagaries of nature.

UPDATE:

Tragic word has now come that the fillu burned wreckage of presidential chopper 1946 has been located.

chopper-crash-montage

No one among the eight people aboard, including the pilots and press undersecretary Joe Capadacia survived with at least three recognizable remains all badly burned.

The remains of the victims are now being gathered and are expected to be airlifted to Baguio.

This writer condoles with Manong JoCap’s family most deeply.

Paalam, Manong.

You make us proud that to the last, you wre doing what you loved most:working at journalism, and with journalists.

Here’s the breaking news report from the Inquirer:

http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/breakingnews/nation/view/20090408-198571/Wreckage-of-missing-chopper-found-in-Ifugao

Postscript:

This writer has previously flown aboard a military Huey chopper on the same route.

The weather over the Cordillera region is really known to be unpredictabke.

Given the high altitude and the flight just above the Cordillera range, the cloud cover can become thick in minutes resulting in zero visibility.

This must have been the same situation that contributed to the crash of the presidential chopper.


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