: Classifieds : MyJU :
Stories: News
Browse News Stories: « Previous Story | Next Story »

Governor demands F-15’s stop flying after Tuesday crash

Date Posted: 2006-01-24

An Air Force F-15 fighter jet crashed in waters off Ikei Island Tuesday morning, triggering demands the military planes be grounded on Okinawa.

The incident occurred at 9:59am Tuesday, as the jet was involved in training about 50 miles east of Okinawa’s main island. The Naha Self Defense Force says the aircraft ditched without incident, and the pilot escaped by using his emergency parachute. He was rescued by a Kadena Air Base search and rescue helicopter about an hour after the crash.

Kadena Air Base issued a statement telling the public “The F-15 Eagle had taken off from Kadena Air Base at 9:30am, and traveled in a four-plane formation to the W-173 training area 55 nautical miles northeast of Okinawa on an air-to-air training mission. The pilot ejected safely and the other three F-15’s returned safely to base.”

The aircraft, built in 1978, was part of the 44th Fighter Squadron based at Kadena. An Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker crew was in contact with the downed pilot until his rescue about 50 minutes after the crash. Teams from the 31st and 33rd Rescue Squadrons raced to the scene, recovered the pilot and took him to the U.S. Navy Hospital at Camp Lester aboard an HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopter. Officials say the pilot was checked and released.

Kadena Town’s mayor and Okinawa Governor Keiichi Inamine were quick to condemn the incident, and demanded immediate action to stop the planes from flying. Inamine told the military to explain why the crash happened, and then told Air Force officials to stop flying the planes until an answer is provided. “We want the military to stop flying until the reason for the crash is clear,” he said. “We will require the military to stop training.”

Tokujitsu Miyagi was even more emphatic. The Kadena Town mayor wants the F-15 aircraft physically removed from Okinawa until an investigation is complete. “The F-15 made trouble in August 2002,” he said, “and in 2004 there was another incident when planes bumped in the air.” Miyagi is not happy this crash occurred in a training area in international waters, which means Japanese authorities cannot investigate the incident at all.

The 11th Maritime Safety Agency is on the scene, watching closely to be sure the oil leaking at the crash site is contained. The Agency said later “the volatile oil was gone by 2pm, away from the water. The U.S. didn’t need to clean anything before the plane sunk to the bottom under 2,000 meters of water. There is no reason to worry.” Okinawa’s ambassador from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Yuuji Miyamoto, says he expects appropriate agencies to do their job in conducting a thorough investigation.

‘We are very sorry to cause anxiety to the prefecture,” said U.S. Air Force Colonel Mark Flamkline.

“We also want citizens to understand that to find out the real reasons for the crash, it will take one or two months. In the meantime, we can’t stop training that long. Pilots need to keep training.”

Inamine is pressing his demand for a stop to flights. He’s traveling Monday to Tokyo to personally argue the case with the Japanese Government. The governor’s office says Inamine wants to see the Foreign Minister, the Japanese Self Defense Force Director, and Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe. He’s to tell them he wants all flights stopped until the crash investigation is complete.

Director Junkou Hanashiro of the governor’s office visited Kitanakagusuku Village’s Okinawa District Offices to “ask the military to find out the reason for the crash.” He also requested F-15’s not fly over Okinawa until the investigation is complete.

The Prefecture Fisherman’s Association has issued its own written protest. Chairman Jinsui Nishime complained “the area is a good fishing spot, and we protest strongly.”

Browse News Stories: « Previous Story | Next Story »

weather currency health and beauty restaurants Yellowpages JU Blog

OkistyleJU FacebookOkistyle

Go to advertising PDF?||?|o?L?qAE?|?}?OA?N?ga`OkiStyle?A??q?qM?oeu^?I`??N?gX?<eth>?<ETH>?ni^?IWanted!!Golden Kings ScheduleOkiNightSeeker