Officials Seek Clues in 3 Military Crashes

Article excerpt

The military's recent loss of three aircraft to southeast

Georgia crashes in one week -- all in the same region -- is sure

to grab the attention of top officials, an aviation expert said

yesterday. Especially since Georgia lawmakers in Washington are

watching closely.

U.S. Sen. Max Cleland, D-Ga., said his staff was following the

investigations into the accidents.

"I am always concerned when I learn that military aircraft are

involved in accidents," Cleland, a member of the Senate Armed

Services Committee, said yesterday in a prepared statement.

"I am confident that so far, the military is taking all

necessary steps to ensure that the cause of these accidents is

determined and measures are taken to prevent against them."

Tim Forte, safety officer from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical

University in Daytona Beach, said whenever there are several

accidents in a row, it should raise a lot of flags.

"The local commander for the region has got to say, `What's

going on?' " Forte said.

Three military planes -- two Air Force and one Army -- have

crashed in Southeast Georgia since Wednesday.

Forte, who as a former director of safety for the National

Transportation Safety Board investigated civilian aviation

accidents, said the military has to "see if there are any

commonalities or trends developing. The military is usually good

at investigating, even over-investigating, when there's a hiccup

like that to find out what's going on."

Cleland said because the crashes involved three different types

of aircraft involved, he didn't think there was a common link.

On Wednesday, two crew members on the Army's RC12N spy plane,

based at Hunter Army Airfield in Savannah, perished in a crash

on Ossabaw Island near Savannah. …