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May 29, 2005


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Baguio plane crash kills future combat pilots

BAGUIO CITY (May 25) — Four trainees of the Philippine Air Force (PAF) were killed in a plane crash five minutes after take off at the Loakan Airport before noon on Tuesday. They were graduates of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) and would have been trained to be full-fledged combat pilots soon.

The pilot of the ill-fated T41 (Cessna) plane 1st Lt. Robert Manlongat Jr., and 1st Lts. Randy Gabriel and Aristotle Anguluan Jr. immediately died when the plane rammed through a residential area along Brgy. Atok Trail here. The plane was leaving for Clark Air Field in Pampanga.

First Lt. Dennis Abaygar, who was rushed to the Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center (BGHMC) also died minutes after.

Office of Civil Defense ­ Cordillera Director Vicente Tomazar who led the retrieval operations bared that the plane could have hit a high tension wire above the residential area.

Atok Trail resident Romeo Pidlaoan, 79, was eating when he heard a big thug beside his house. “Stones rolled down my roofing,” he recalled, adding “We are lucky that the plane did not ram through the houses.”

The plane crashed between the houses of Pidlaoan and Rey Douglas Saydoen, 42. Saydoen’s wife said they heard a thug on the ground and later on found that the four-seater plane was lying on a small hill just beside their house.

The T41 plane is one among those being used by Air Education and Training Command at the PAF Training School in Lipa City, Batangas province. For almost a week now, at least 10 similar trainer planes took off at the Loakan Airport with the pilots on training.

A PAF officer who refused to be identified pending clearance from higher headquarters said the four, all members of PMA Class of 2001, are all graduating from their two-year combat pilot courses this month.

Manlongat, Jr. is the son of retired Army General Roberto Manlongat, once assigned as Division Commander of the 5th Infantry Division in Gamu, Isabela province in Cagayan Valley.

At least five air mishaps had already occurred in the past few weeks, mostly involving Cessna planes. # Artemio A. Dumlao for NORDIS

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