Air Force says two pilots in crash were heroes
Maj. Park Jeong-su, 34, and Maj. Kwon Seong-ho, 33, were killed.
The T-59 aircraft, part of the 16th Fighter Wing based in Yecheon, North Gyeongsang, took off at 2:27 p.m. Monday before it went down to the left of the runway outside of the base, according to the Air Force.
That decision, the Air Force said, probably spared civilian casualties, as the jet could have crash landed to the right side of the runway, which is a residential area and would have been closer for the pilots. “We presume that the pilots turned head-on toward the empty lot on the left side of the base’s fence,” an Air Force spokesman said. “Because they went left, I don’t think they had enough time to escape the jet.”
Following the deadly incident, the Air Force grounded all flights, except for emergencies, to inspect its aircraft.
“We’ve banned all flights until the inspection is complete,” the spokesman said. “We’ve also grounded all T-59s until the investigation is done.”
Major Kwon is survived by his wife, who is also a fighter jet pilot, and a three-year-old son. Major Park’s wife gave birth to their second daughter in November, but Park had yet to see the baby because of his military work.
By Jeong Yong-soo [email@example.com]