Navy Jets Crash off Pensacola, FL


Well-known member
Jan 11, 2002
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PENSACOLA, Fla. (Reuters) - Rescue crews were searching for seven people missing after a pair of U.S. Navy jets crashed in the Gulf of Mexico off the Florida Panhandle on Wednesday, Navy and Coast Guard officials said.

The two T-39 Sabreliners were on a training flight when they disappeared from the radar about 40 miles south of Pensacola in the northeastern part of the Gulf of Mexico, with three people on one plane and four on the other.

"We have not found any survivors or any bodies," said Petty Officer Mark Mackowiak at the Coast Guard's New Orleans rescue center. "We are picking up pieces of debris."

It was unclear whether the twin-jet aircraft which resemble small business jets collided or whether either had made distress calls. Rescue crews found two debris fields about 6 miles (10 km) apart, Mackowiak said.

The planes went down about 4:30 p.m. EDT, shortly after taking off from the Pensacola Naval Air Station on a routine training mission, station spokesman Ron Westlake said.

The planes are not equipped with ejector seats, and there was no word whether those aboard were Navy personnel or included some civilian contractors, Westlake said.

A Coast Guard helicopter crew dropped marker buoys to help determine what direction the waves and currents would have carried any survivors, Mackowiak said.

Rescue boats planned to search through the night, with planes and helicopters rejoining the search at daybreak.

"We're looking at a very confined area," Mackowiak said. "We are still treating this as a rescue mission and will continue to do so until we've exhausted all reasonable expectations."