Helmet of missing PAF pilot found off Palawan

A local fisherman recovers the helmet floating two miles south of Palawan's Sombrero Island 13 days after the plane crash

MANILA, Philippines – A local fisherman recovered the helmet worn by one of the two missing Air Force pilots of the OV-10 Bronco that crashed off Palawan on June 23, as authorities continued their search.

Col Miguel Ernesto Okol, Air Force spokesman, said the helmet was found by a fisherman, floating two miles south of Palawan’s Sombrero Island on Saturday, July 6.

The helmet was immediately turned over to Joint Task Force Bronco, the team investigating the incident. It confirmed that the helmet belonged to one of the missing pilots.

Okol said JTF Bronco has been relentless in its search for the missing pilots, 13 days after the crash. Authorities are scouring all the probable locations using all available assets.

On Saturday, JTF Bronco was to search south of the suspected crash site all the way down to Rasa Island. They were to be aided by underwater cameras and equipment from the Department of Science and Technology and the Navy, and the Coast Guard vessels with side scanning sonar.

A search team equipped with sonar has been scouting the seas around the last known location of the aircraft, taking into consideration the sea current that might have caused the plane to drift away.

At the same time, personnel from the 570th Composite Tactical Wing are also searching along the coastlines of Barangay San Rafael all the way to Barangay Gagogan and nearby islands for any signs of the pilots.

Okol said Shell Philippines also provided its own remotely operated vehicle (ROV) to help in the search. The ROV proceeded to the suspected crash site but was unable to locate any trace of the missing aircraft.

“The ROV had been recalled by Shell back to Malampaya but will be back after completing its company mission,” Okol said.

The Air Force Chief, Lt Gen Lauro Catalino dela Cruz, gave assurances that they will not stop searching for the pilots.

“We will pursue the search for the wreckage as it will provide the investigators enough evidence to ascertain the cause of the crash and eventually the fate of the pilots,” he said. – Rappler.com

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