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Reply #27: "... about 20 minutes after ground controllers lost contact." [View All]

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ROH Donating Member (521 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun May-08-05 08:27 AM
Response to Reply #22
27. "... about 20 minutes after ground controllers lost contact."
The following reports (Dallas Morning News, USA Today) are interesting, particularly with respect to the early stages of the emergency escorting.
Shooting down the plane "was never an option," Air Force spokesman Capt. Joe Della Vedova said. "I don't know where that came from."

Instead, according to an Air Force timeline, a series of military planes provided an emergency escort to the stricken Lear, beginning with a pair of F-16 Falcons from the Air National Guard at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., about 20 minutes after ground controllers lost contact.

An F-16 and an A-10 Warthog attack plane from Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., took up the chase a few minutes later and were trailing the Lear when it climbed abruptly from 39,000 to 44,000 feet at 9:52 a.m. CDT.

Fifteen minutes later, the F-16 intercepted the Lear, the pilot reporting no movement in the cockpit.

At 10:44 a.m., the fighters from Eglin diverted to St. Louis for fuel. Fifteen minutes later, four Air National Guard F-16s from Tulsa, Okla., took up the chase, accompanied by a KC-135 refueling tanker.

F-16s from Fargo, N.D., later scrambled to intercept the Lear jet, too. At noon Dallas time, the Fargo F-16s reported that the windows of the jet were fogged with ice and there was no evidence anyone was piloting the plane.

At 12:14, the Lear jetbegan to spiral. It crashed about six minutes later.
A preliminary chronology developed by the Air Force of events surrounding the crash Monday of a Learjet who passengers included professional golfer Payne Stewart. Material in quotations is verbatim from the chronology. All times are Eastern.

9:09 a.m. Plane leaves Orlando, Fla.

10:08 a.m. "FAA requested emergency escort." F-16 from Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., was airborne on routine mission when diverted to provide the initial escort.

10:52 a.m. "Aircraft jumped to 44,000." (Pentagon spokesman Kenneth Bacon said the plane was "porpoising," fluctuating between 22,000 and 51,000 feet. This may be because it was on auto pilot.)

11 a.m. "Emergency track has five souls on board. Still no contact."

11:14 a.m. Responsibility for escorting plane is transferred from Southeast Air Defense sector to Western Air Defense sector.

11:25 a.m. "Lear 35 tail number N47BA."

11:44 a.m. Escort fighter from Eglin heads to Scott Air Force Base, Ill., for refueling.

11:59 a.m. FAA reports that four F-16s from Tulsa, Okla., and a refueling tanker (KC-135) are ready to help escort. (Bacon said these F-16s never got closer than 100 miles to the Learjet).

12:03 p.m. Northeast Air Defense sector scrambles two F-16s from Fargo, N.D. (Bacon said an AWACS radar plane on an exercise north of Chicago was diverted to provide additional radar coverage in the event the plane crossed into Canada.)

12:13 p.m. Learjet estimated to have one hour of fuel remaining. "Flight path on 320 (degrees) heading over mostly sparsely populated area."

12:16 p.m. "Northeast Air Defense sector reports aircraft will run out of fuel in vicinity of Pierre, S.D."

12:50 p.m. "Second set of jets scrambles from Fargo."

12:54 p.m. Fargo fighters intercept Learjet.

1 p.m. F-16s report that Learjet's windows are fogged with ice. "No flight control movement noted. Fargo F-16s 30 minutes fuel remaining."

1:13 p.m. Second set of Fargo F-16s put on alert. (Bacon said they were armed.)

1:14 p.m. Western Air Defense sector reports Learjet "beginning to spiral."
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