HUALIEN, Taiwan News — President Ma Ying-jeou headed to Hualien City yesterday to pay his last respects to fighter pilot Major Ting Shih-pao, who disappeared during a routine training flight in waters off the coast of the eastern county in early March.
Ting’s body and the F-16A Fighting Falcon jet he was flying were never recovered despite an extensive search by Coast Guard units and the Ministry of National Defense, which dispatched several helicopters, aircraft, patrol ships and naval vessels to comb the area for days.
At the ceremony held at a funeral parlor in the eastern city of Hualien, Ma consoled Ting’s family members and presented a medal of honor for the lost pilot. The president also promoted Ting to the rank of lieutenant colonel posthumously.
Officials believe that Ting, 34, who had a total of over 1,200 hours of flight time, lost his bearings during the training flight and crashed into the sea.