Pilot of missing F-16 likely suffered spatial disorientation: Air Force

Focus Taiwan
Date: 11/18/2020
By: Chen Yun-yu, Chen Chun-hua and Joseph Yeh

An F-16 fighter jet. CNA file photo

Taipei, Nov. 18 (CNA) The disappearance of an F-16 fighter from radar screens Tuesday night was mostly likely the result of spatial disorientation on the part of the pilot, Air Force Commander Hsiung Hou-chi (熊厚基) said Wednesday.

Citing an initial investigation, Hsiung said at a press briefing that data showed the single-seat F-16 jet, piloted by Colonel Chiang Cheng-chih (蔣正志), dropping 7,000 feet in 20 seconds, about 1 minute after it took off from Hualien Air Base at 6:05 p.m. Tuesday.

The 7,000-foot drop may have occurred because the pilot suffered spatial disorientation after entering the cloud layer, and he lost his sense of direction, Hsiung said.

In aviation, spatial disorientation is defined as the inability of a pilot to correctly interpret aircraft attitude, altitude or airspeed in relation to the Earth or other points of reference.

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