Four Onboard Include Civilian, Navy And AF Airmen
ANN REALTIME UPDATE
01.11.06 1245 EST: The search continues for a T-39
Sabreliner, used by the Navy for navigator training, that vanished
Tuesday while enroute from Chattanooga, Tennessee, to Pensacola
NAS, Florida. The aircraft took off at 11 AM on an instrument
flight rules flight plan and was last heard of some twenty minutes
later, when it made a routine ATC handoff. No subsequent
transmissions were received from the Navy Jet.
The crewmembers of the missing aircraft from Navy training
squadron VT-86 have not been identified by name. The plane was
flown by a civilian contract pilot; A Navy officer instructor and
two officer students, one each from the Navy and the USAF, were
The aircraft took off at 1100 and was expected in Pensacola by
1500. When the airplane was overdue, search procedures got
The T-39 crewmembers have parachutes available in the aircraft,
but the elderly training jet does not have ejection seats.
Sabreliner (civilian version shown, at right) was developed as a
military crew trainer in the 1950s, and then "repurposed" to be the
first business jet. Relatively few of the civil aircraft remain --
all have required expensive re-engining, as they originally had
earsplitting, thirsty turbojets -- but the machine remains a
military training workhorse.
The search has centered on the rugged, mountainous area of north
central Georgia, in the area of Carters Lake. An Air Force rescue
aircraft from 347th Rescue Wing at Moody Air Force Base ran the
route the missing plane was to have flown without detecting any
sign of it. "The CAP is out today. Whether we get tasked or not
will depend on whether they find anything today," Capt. Gary Arasin
of the 347th told the Associated Press.
"We've got five air crews standing by ready to go," Civil Air
Patrol public affairs officer Capt. Paige Joyner said. Visual
search operations by the CAP have been frustrated by low ceilings
and rainy weather.
Ground elements including CAP units, sheriff's departments and
other local law enforcement agents have been searching and
canvassing rural residents in the hopes that someone might have
seen evidence of the missing plane. The Georgia Department of
Natural Resources and US Army elements have also participated in
the search, according to some sources.