Transcribed from The Portsmouth Times, Portsmouth, OH, June 19, 1971, p. 7:

Military Craft Due to Fly by Civilian Rules


WASHINGTON (AP) — Military pilots, involved in one of every four near-misses with other planes, will fly under civilian direction more often in the wake of a 50-death crash of a Marine jet and an airliner.

The Federal Aviation Administration said Friday the armed forces agreed to its request to cut down on the number of fixed-wing military aircraft operating under the rule of “see and be seen.”

In the future, the FAA said, all military administrative and cross-country flights and some flights to and from military bases will be operated under instrument flight rules whenever possible.

That would put them under direction of FAA air-traffic controllers based at civilian airport towers, and require military pilots to file flight plans.

A Marine F4 Phantom jet was flying by visual rules when it collided June 6 with an Air West DC9 over the San Gabriel Mountains near Los Angeles. Killed were 44 passengers and five crew members aboard the DC9 and the F4 pilot.

The only survivor of that crash, a radar officer aboard the military plane, said he saw the approaching jetliner and shouted a warning to his pilot just seconds before the crash. The radar officer parachuted to safety.

The FAA said its radar watchers had been tracking the DC9 after takeoff from Los Angels [sic] for Salt Lake City but did not see on their screens the military jet en route from Nevada to Santa Ana, Calif., on a low-level navigational training flight.

While most commercial airliners operate on instruments at all times, current federal regulations allow other pilots the option of following visual flight rules when the sky is clear.

All planes must follow instrument flight rules, however, when flying between 24,000- and 60,000-feet altitude over most of the United States and when flying above 18,000 feet in the crowded skyways of the Northeast and a strip along the U.S.-Canadian border.

The FAA, in a 1968 study, found that military pilots reported one-fourth of the 2,230 near-miss aircraft encounters that year. It said aircraft involved in the near-miss reports carried more than 100,000 persons, and concluded there were probably four such instances for each one reported voluntarily.