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Category: News - Features (Archived) Created: 04/14/2001 12:00 AM
URL(s): N/A Updated: 10/17/2001 06:15 PM
Philippine Bronco Crash Kills One
Heroic pilot steered her plane away from houses
 
By Mike Whaley
 
Workers sort through the wreckage of the crashed OV-10.
A team from the 15th Strike Wing look through the wreckage of the crashed OV-10. Pilot Grace Baluyo was killed in the accident, but managed to avoid hitting anyone on the ground. Her co-pilot ejected, sustaining relatively minor injuries.
Decorated Philippine Air Force pilot 1Lt. Grace Baluyo lost her life at 3:45 p.m on March 26 when an OV-10 of the 15th Strike Wing went down in bad weather. The plane was one of three OV-10s that took of from Sangley Point Air Base 14 minutes prior on a training mission over the Crow Valley military reservation. About a minute before the crash, Baluyo informed Clark Airport that her plane was developing engine failure, and was vectored to runway 20. They couldn't make the airport, and impact occurred in a vacant lot at the Fil-Homes subdivision in the village of Barangay Mabiga in Mabalacat. There were three villages that potentially could have been hit by the aircraft had Baluyo not stayed with the plane. Co-pilot Capt. Ben Nasayao ejected safely just moments before impact, suffering a broken foot after landing only 100 meters from the point of impact.

1LT Grace Baluyo 1LT Grace Baluyo
1Lt. Baluyo, a member of the Air Force Flying School Class of 1997, had received numerous awards for "conspicuous heroism and gallantry in action" including eight Gold Cross medals, two Distinguished Aviation Cross medals, and three military merit medals. Three awards were for her role in recent operations to capture separatist stronghold Camp Abubakar. Baluyo, who was engaged to marry another PAF pilot, was found still strapped into the airplane. It was not clear whether she died from impact injuries or from the post-crash fire.

After the crash, Baluyo was widely hailed for her heroism in preventing ground casualties: "There are indications that Lt. Grace Baluyo delayed her bailout to guide the ill-fated aircraft to a vacant lot and avoid houses in a residential area," said Lt. Col. Charles Hotchkiss, deputy commander of the 1st Tactical Air Force Wing at Clark Field.

Learn More: Philippine Daily Inquirer Article...
Learn More: Philippine Daily Inquirer Article...

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