Nine missing after US Coast Guard plane and Navy helicopter collide

Friday, October 30, 2009

A similar helicopter to the one involved

A search and rescue mission is underway off the coast of California for nine people missing after a US Coast Guard plane collided in midair with a Navy helicopter. The plane, a C-130 Hercules transport, was carrying seven and two were on the AH-1 SuperCobra assault helicopter.

A file photo of a C-130 transport plane

Searchers from the Navy and Coast Guard have found floating debris from the aircraft. The collision occurred roughly 15 miles from San Clemente Island, and a pilot in the area witnessed a fireball. Some debris is confirmed as coming from a C-130. The plane and crew were based at Coast Guard Air Station Sacramento and the helicopter and crew were from the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing presence at Camp Pendleton.

According to Petty Officer Henry Dunphy, the airplane was equipped with survival gear. "We're hoping to find survivors. We're not ruling that out," he said.

The rescue operation is being conducted by both air and sea. Lieutenant Josh Nelson of the Coast Guard said that "we are throwing everything we can at this right now," adding that the crews were trained in survival techniques.