Re: Made in China

From: Spike Jones (
Date: Sun Apr 22 2001 - 18:31:58 MDT

 At 01:21 PM 4/21/01 -0700, Jeff Davis wrote:

> >(Everyone outside of China knows what happened, the Chinese fighter jock
> >screwed up, killed himself, and brought down the spy plane and its crew.)
> Damien Broderick wrote:. Since I have
> zero knowledge of the aerobatics involved, could anyone explain *why* the
> Chinese version is impossible?
> The analogy that comes to my mind is a clapped out old school bus ambling
> along the high ridge, and this pesky Hell's Angel keeps zooming in and out...

The Hells Angel analogy holds, so long as he is riding one of
those plastic faired sport bikes. Kinda creates an entertaining
image, a Hells Angel with leather, tattoos, chain around the neck,
hunched over a Japanese crotch rocket. {8^D But I digress.

The Angel in this case is responsible for his own safety,
since he is the one acting squirrelly, and also because he has
the far more maneuverable vehicle. In flight school they teach
you who has the right of way in the sky: the one with the least
maneuverability. So the universal right of way belongs to...
a hot air balloon! Followed by a blimp, then airliners, then
smaller planes, all the way down to fighter planes. If anything
in the sky has less right-of-way than a fighter, it would be
something like an aerobatic plane.

The hotdog fighter jock is free to play, but ultimately in
this case he is responsible for the safety of the P3 and
his own craft. Had he survived, no doubt he would have
faced court martial. Knowing this, he may have chosen
to end his life, somewhere on the way down, or after
landing in the sea.

Heres an interesting account of the incident that has
been around the world a few times. I reformatted the
first part, then ran outta time, so do forgive the formatting

Subject:The EP-3 aircrew rescue mission as told
by the Continental Airlines pilotHere is a first
hand report on the recovery of the US Navy Air
Crew byone of the Continental Airlines pilots.
This is a long e-mail, but buriedabout 3/4 of the
way through you will hear Lt Shane Osborne's
account of the incident.


By Captain Guy Greider Continental Airlines

Since the mid-air collision on April 1, 2001 between a U.S.
NavyEP-3 surveillance aircraft and a Chinese jet fighter,
I had watched thenews with mild interest. This was mostly
due to the proximity of Guam toChina. I never dreamed that
I would play a role in this intensely watchedinternational
drama. Somewhere in the negotiations between theUnited
States and the Chinese Governments, it was decided that
a civilian aircraft should be sent to retrieve the 24
crewmembers being detained on Hainan Island, China. A
call was made to Continental Airlines headquarters in
Houston, Texas. Continental was chosen because of its
Guam base and its ability to launch this kind of
operation at a moment s notice. From there, the
operation took shape through the tireless efforts of
many people workingbehind the scenes in a coordinated
effort between the airline, the military,and the State

On Saturday, April 7, 2001, I received a
call athome from Captain Ralph Freeman, Continental
Micronesia Director of FlightOperations. Ralph told
me that the military wanted to charter one of ourjets
to conduct a rescue mission and asked if I would be
one of thecrewmembers. I said yes without hesitation.

Later we were told that we would need to get passport
pictures taken in case the Chinese Government required
visas. We got the required photos and were under the
impression that wewould leave immediately. However,
the negotiations slowed over the demandfrom the
Chinese that the U.S. issue an apology that the
U.S. was unwillingto give. Meanwhile, the Continental
crew remained on call 24 hours a day.Our Uniforms
were laid out and our bags were packed and waiting
by the door.

On Wednesday evening April 11, 2001,
at about 630 PM Ralph called again tosay that the
two parties were very close to an agreement to
release the U.S.crew and to come to the airport.

Upon arrival, we were given a briefingsheet listing
the information that we would need to conduct the
flight. Wewould carry a Repatriation Team consisting
of Navy, Marine Corps, and AirForce specialists,
14 people in all. Doctors, Psychologists, and
communications people with lots of gear showed up
on the ramp near theairplane, ready to board. They
were all dressed in casual civilian clothes.

The 155-seat jet was fitted with 2 full stretcher kits
bolted in over rowsof seats complete with Oxygen
tanks and I.V. bottles. They did not know the
condition of the24 detained crewmembers and they
were not going to take any chances. Theywere
prepared. When our crew was fully assembled, it
consisted of 11 people.2 pilots to fly the jet
and an extra to provide relief because of the
extensive flight time involved. They were Captain
Tom Pinardo, CaptainPierre Frenay and I. We also
carried 5 very experienced Flight Attendants.They
were Debbie Percell, Susanne Hendricks, Jean Tang,
Cynthia Iverson, andBeverly Haines. Our 2 onboard
mechanics were Peter Lum and Julius Aguilo. Our
load planner was Mike Torres.

At about 930 PM we
received a call askingthat we arrive in China no
earlier than 600 AM, just about sunrise. It was
obvious that the entire exchange would be
photographed and they wanteddaylight conditions.
We estimated that a 215 AM departure from Guam
wouldput us on the ground in Haikou precisely
at 600 AM local China time. (2hours earlier than
Guam) Some of us just stayed on the plane, other
saccepted the company s invitation to come to the
Continental President sClub, a local VIP lounge at
the airport to try to get some rest.

It was difficult
to get any rest with our much-anticipated mission
so near. By 100AM the pilots were back in the
briefing room going over the weather, flightplan,
fuel requirements and everything else that goes
into a flight. Again,we loaded up the airplane and
finally departed Guam International atprecisely 215
AM. The stretcher kits and medical gear were not
the onlyspecial additions to the airplane. The company
had loaded a special file into the navigation
database of the flight management computer (FMC).
This allowed us to gain access to navigation data
needed to operate in this partof China, which is
not in our normal route structure.

The Repatriation
Team carried sophisticated equipment to communicate
with the military andgovernment officials that would
monitor our progress throughout the flight.The
route of flight took us straight west from Guam
toward the Philippinesalong the G467 airway. About
half way across we turned north directly toward
Hong Kong. This routing was designed to avoid
flying through Taiwaneseairspace, something that
the Chinese could consider offensive.

the Chinese coastline, we contacted Hong Kong
radar control. After establishing radar contact
with us, the controller gave us a short cut to
expedite his traffic flow. This was bad because
it cut off considerabledistance and would result
in arriving too early. We compensated by slowing
our airspeed until the computer again estimated
a 600 AM arrival. Theinstant we turned across
the short cut, the interphone rang from the back of
the plane. They wanted to know why we had deviated
from the flight plan. Wetold them it was due to
Hong Kong traffic and that we had adjusted our
airspeed. We were still on schedule. Now we were
approaching our destination, Haikou airport on
Hainan Island. Captain Pierre Frenay was atthe

The weather was 2000-ft overcast with
5 miles visibility andlight winds out of the east.
Pierre made an ILS approach to and landed onrunway 9.
Haikou airport is much the same as many other
airports in theworld that serve jet transport
aircraft. It has an 11,000-ft runway withstandard
lighting and navigational facilities. We touched
down at 607 AM.The first early morning light was
beginning to illuminate the sky. The localair
traffic controller instructed us to follow a
vehicle that was beside uson an adjacent taxiway.
He led us to a remote part of the airport, away
fromthe main terminal buildings.

Once we had
parked and shut down the engines,we saw many
uniformed Chinese military personnel and vehicles.
They did notappear to have weapons. Portable
stairs were brought up to the airplane and we
opened the main cabin door. The Repatriation
Team that we carried hadbeen briefed to close
down all of their communications equipment prior
tolanding and put it away. They were also briefed
to remain in their seats ina non-threatening
posture in case the Chinese military came aboard.

Thefirst and only person to come aboard was an
Air China employee. He spokeEnglish and was to
act as the translator between our group and the
Chinese military. He instructed us to have everyone
fill out both arrival anddeparture documents.
He collected all of our passports and left the
aircraft. Before he left, he said that only one
person at a time would beallowed to deplane. Peter
Lum, one of our mechanics went down to supervise
the re-fueling and servicing of the airplane. When
that was complete, I wentdown to do the walk-around
inspection. I did this rather slowly because I
wanted to have a chance to look around.

While I
was out on the ramp, a skirmish developed between
people who were trying to climb a wall to photograph
our aircraft and the Chinese police. Somehow, CNN
managed tocarry our arrival and departure live.
Once the airplane was serviced andready to go, we
looked anxiously around for any sign of the buses
thatcarried our 24 detainees. Before that could
happen however, we had a problemto deal with. A U.S.
military General who was on the scene to assist in
thetransfer came storming up the stairs and demanded
to speak with the Captain.Tom Pinardo responded. The
General said that the entire mission was now in
jeopardy. A document called the general declaration,
which is standard onall international flights had
listed the destination as Haikou, China R.O.C.The
initials ROC stand for Republic of China which is ...
Taiwan! The Chinesewere very upset over this. Tom
quickly crossed out ROC and replaced it with P.R.O.C.
the Peoples Republic of China. This seemed to satisfy

Withthe airplane ready to go and the paperwork
complete,2 buses pulled up and the 24 U.S. service
men and women saluted as theybolted up the stairs and
settled into the back of the plane. When the lastone
was aboard, our passports were returned to us. The
stairs werewithdrawn, the cabin door closed, and we
started the engines and departed.It was my turn at
the controls. Once airborne heading straight south
we broke through the clouds into the bright sunshine.
 Pierre made a PA announcement that we were over
international waters and leaving Chinese airspace.
A great cheer rose from the back of the airplane.

A short whilelater we received a telephone patch over
the HF radio from Mr. JosephPrueher, U.S Ambassador
to China. He wanted to speak with Lt. Shane Osborne
the 26 year old EP-3 Aircraft Commander. Lt. Osborne
came to the cockpit andput on a headset. The Ambassador
told him that on behalf of the President ofthe United
States and the entire country he wanted to say welcome
 home . Hewent on to say how proud he was of everything
 the crew had done from theirairmanship in saving the
 lives of the crew and aircraft, to their conduct on
the ground once they had been detained. They had
truly done an excellentjob.

After his conversation
with the Ambassador, Lt. Osborne stayed in the
cockpit for quite a while and told us his story
pilot to pilot of what hadhappened during and
immediately after the mid-air collision with the
F-8 Chinese fighter. The fighter came up under their
 left wing. This pilot made2 very close passes
previously that day. He apparently misjudged the
intercept and his vertical stabilizer struck the
outboard left propeller onthe EP-3. The U.S. plane
 was in straight and level flight on autopilot at
the time. The fighter broke into two pieces and
plunged into the sea. TheU.S. plane rolled to the
left almost inverted, the pilot lost control and
they began to lose altitude. The Chinese fighter
had raked back across thefuselage and knocked off
the nose cone causing the aircraft to buffet wildly.
When the nose cone departed the aircraft it collided
with anddamaged the number 4 propeller on the right
wing. The collision puncturedthe pressure vessel and
 the EP-3 depressurized. The collision also knocked
off the pitot tubes eliminating airspeed and altitude
 indications in thecockpit. It also knocked off the
 forward bracket for the HF radio antenna.The antenna
 then flew back and wrapped around the tail.

We were
 almostupside down and totally out of control Osborne
 told us. The dive continuedand some crew members
donned parachutes. At about 8,000 feet, Osborne
regained straight and level flight. They considered
ditching the aircraft inthe South China Sea but
dismissed that option because it was certain to
result in loss of life. They headed for the nearest
 land, Hainan Island. TheU.S. crew now faced the
most difficult landing of their lives. They made
numerous mayday, mayday, mayday radio calls on
internationally recognizedemergency frequencies.
The Chinese did not respond. Somehow, they managed to
get the airplane on the ground.

Their next immediate
 task was to destroy thesensitive electronic
surveillance equipment aboard the EP-3. Meanwhile
 the Chinese military had approached the aircraft
 in vehicles and were yelling atthem through
loudspeakers to deplane. The next 11 days would
be a veryuncertain time for them. When we met
them, they told us that they had notbeen abused
 or mistreated. Their food was adequate and
plentiful. Sort oflike eating in a Chinese
restaurant every day one of them said.

On the forth
day, they got some coffee. On the fifth day, some
 cokes were provided. Thecrew did not know what
kind of transport would be provided for their return
home. They were pleased and surprised to see a
chartered airliner from theUnited States. The rest
 of the flight from Haikou to Anderson AFB on Guam
was uneventful. During the 5 hour flight the crew
was treated to the movieMen of Honor and enjoyed
a first class meal. We did not know it at the time
but our landing at Anderson AFB was carried live
on national television. Wetaxied to the parking
ramp at Anderson where many people had turned out
 to welcome all of us home. Individuals and
families with kids, both militaryand civilian
waved American flags and cheered, showing
support for thereturning U.S. spy plane crew.

 Once the 24 U.S. crewmembers and the military
Repatriation Team had deplaned at Anderson,
they immediately boarded waitingbuses and were
 whisked away. The Continental crew then became
 the object ofintense media attention. CNN,
MSNBC, ABC, NBC, Reuters and various print
media interviewed us. A dizzying swirl of
attention after a very long day.We were happy,
tired, and pleased that the mission was so
successful as Tomflew the last segment, a
10-minute flight back to Guam International
Airport. This time our passengers included
Bill Meehan, President ofContinental Micronesia,
 Guam Governor Carl Gutierrez, Lieutenant Governor
Bordallo and others.

We thought the day was
just about over but we had onemore surprise
in store. After landing, we were given a hero s
welcome of ourown. The airport fire department
was in place to give us the traditionalwater
cannon salute, a rainbow arch of water for us
to taxi under. Areception was held at the gate
 with food, balloons, commemorative plaques,and
 more media interviews with the local television
 station. This was veryheady stuff.

As I look
back on this one of a kind operation. It could not
have happened without the tremendous effort and
skills of many peopleworking behind the scenes.
Bill Meehan, Mitch Dubner at the SOCC in Houston,
Tom Rinow at the CMI SOCC, Captain Ralph Freeman,
CMI Director of FlightOperations, and many others
 had major rolls in coordinating this flight.
Itwas accomplished through teamwork. The fact
 that it came off without a hitchis testimony
to how well all these people did their jobs.
The exposure thatContinental Airlines received
over this is a marketing manager s dream comes
true. We will be remembered by millions of
people as the company whoconducted the China
Rescue Mission . This was a proud day for
ContinentalAirlines and for America.

Joe Snoy ASAS Test and Training Manager (303) 977-6745

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b30 : Mon May 28 2001 - 09:59:50 MDT