The late Maj. Neil Tumaneng was just one of our classmates in PMA who's in the Philippine Air Force and died of plane or helicopter crash, either doing a proficiency flight or delivering goods and passengers. Without a doubt, I believe that they were among the finest and bravest pilots in the world considering they were able to fly our available aircraft.
What are the possible reasons why these aircraft fall down crashing from the sky?
Human error. Although there is no question that all of our mistah who died were selected among the most able lad and lass of the country and are considered the "cream of the crop" just to enter PMA, hurdled the harsh training along with the equally challenging academics, finished the 4 year course requirement in the academy with flying colors, mostly topped their flying course and were well decorated in their field, still, humans as we are, are not perfect... maybe.
Weather condition. Mostly, flights conducted during proficiency training and deliveries are scheduled on clear weathered days. But the weather may change and sometimes are very unpredictable... slightly possible.
Hit on air. Might be unlikely being hit by a missile or anti-air ammunition from an enemy aircraft or ground force, or maybe a planted bomb on the plane during war, insurgency, sabotage or terrorist attack. But then again, who knows, even in a peaceful and clear sky, a foreign object (birds or meteorites) may suddenly appear and accidentally hit the aircraft... very unlikely but still possible.
Mechanical failure or defect. These aircraft were first manufactured way before our generations were born. Some were even Vietnam war vintage. The trainer planes were first delivered in the early 70's and then we received second hand units from allied countries in the late 70's. Some of the planes received an engine and avionics upgrade in the mid-90's. And 18 new-build SF.260F were just delivered last 2011.
There's really no problem with the model we're using. For me, the older the model, the more trusted it becomes since it's tested by time. But that's the total opposite for the unit (plane/ helicopter) itself, the older the unit is, the more susceptible it is to mechanical failure, engine trouble or part damage due to "wear and tear". And facing reality, our nation cannot afford the state-of-the-art aircraft as that of the other countries. So we rely on repair and maintenance and part replacement, if needed, to preserve our remaining aircraft...
But, just like any machine, it must use the prescribed fuel and lubricants, original or more durable replacement parts and serviced by mechanics from or trained by the manufacturers themselves. Simply saying, authorized manufacturer mechanics. Otherwise, we will be putting valuable lives and resources at risk.
We know that there are risks in anything we do, but the degree of risk varies and we can definitely lessen it by how many folds if those on top always think of the welfare of their men by giving them what is just for them, a good working environment, safe and facilities, equipment and machinery to work with and modernized, if necessary. And these can only be possible if the taxes we pay goes exactly to what they're intended for. There's nothing wrong in dreaming...
We hope and fervently pray that we will soon have better aircraft in our armed forces for the safety of our pilots and more, for the feeling of security of their family that they will return home safe and sound...
To a family friend, Patricio Claur Jr., also aboard the C-130 aircraft last August 25, 2008. And those people who died along with them.
Your sacrifices will always be remembered, bok. Your family, the mistah, the corps, and the nation will forever be proud of you.
And may we all be guided and blessed by our Lord of Courage to fight for what is right, Integrity to values and principles we learned, and Loyalty to God, country and people.