So called U.S. "Apology " To China For EP-3E Incident -- April 2001, U.S. Apology to China, EP-3 Crash, Chinese fighter crash, China air crah, U.S. Navy Air crash

Welcome Home From China - Crew of VQ-1 !

Your Job Is Well Done ! Your Eagle Will Fly Again !

April 2001

Welcome Home

American Heros

Returning With Honor

Welcome Home

American Heros

Returning With Honor

 God Bless The Officers & Crew of VQ-1 Squadron

"The World Watchers"

It's A Great Navy Day!

Thanks Lt. Shane Osborne

"I'm here to tell you we did it right, no apologies necessary on our part."

Lt. Shane Osborn, USN, Commander of EP-3E Mission

Update November 2002 -- THIS EAGLE HAS SOARED AGAIN !

The U.S. Navy EP-3 plane downed after colliding with a Chinese fighter jet has taken its 1st test flight, 16 months after it was shipped back to U.S in pieces. U.S. officials dismantled aircraft & hired a Russian cargo plane to carry fuselage back to Lockheed, where new wing, tail & nose components installed.

Update April 2002 - America's Plane Is Soon Back!

THIS EAGLE WILL SOAR AGAIN >> A year after collision with a PRC fighter jet forced it to make an emergency landing in China, the famous U.S intelligence plane that was picked over & cut apart is being put back together & could be back in the air next month. The U.S. Navy EP-3E Aries II electronic surveillance plane is undergoing repairs at Lockheed-Martin in Marietta. That work should be completed in May 2002, when our plane is to be flown to a Raytheon Co. plant at Waco, Texas, for electronic updates. After that, the 4-engine plane is scheduled to return to Navy service by the end of the year. "The inventory of EP-3 aircraft is 11, so it's not like there's tons & tons of these things around," the Navy said. "It's a surveillance & reconnaissance airplane, and we've got lots of missions for that kind of airplane." -- U.S. Navy

Update July 3 2001

The Navy Is Home! >> Pieces of disassembled U.S. Navy EP-3E Aries II plane arrived Hawaii July 3 -- 3 months after aircraft's collision with a Chinese fighter jet sparked a crisis in U.S.-China relations. Fuselage of EP-3E & equipment used to dismantle plane aboard an Antonov-124 cargo aircraft, which landed at Hickam Air Force Base at 6:09 p.m. - about 12 hours after plane left S. China's Hainan island. Stop in Manila for refueling. Civilian technicians able to finish before 25-day target date of July 11 because of ideal weather conditions, lack of mechanical problems 7 Chinese cooperation. EP-3E to be transported on The 4th of July to Lockheed Martin facility in Marietta, Ga. Other parts flown to Kadena Air Base , on Japanese island of Okinawa where VQ-1 has facilities. (July 3 2001)

Update May 17 2001

The U.S. Navy has awarded Lt. Shane Osborn, the Distinguished Flying Cross for heroism.

Senior Chief Petty Officer Nicholas Mellos, received the Meritorious Service Medal for exemplary conduct during the emergency landing & the 11 days afterward during which the Chinese military held the 24 crew members on Hainan Island. The reamining crew was awarded the Air Medal for heroism.


Remarks of President George W. Bush

An Inside Look At He Rescue Mission -By Captain Guy Greider, Continental Airlines

-- Congratulations To The Pilot Who Flew The Rescue Mission !

-- Incident Details Given By Lt. Shane Osborne To Continental Rescue Crew

News Coverage of This Event From

The Cargo Letter

Fox News

The Fantasy "Apology" Our Crew Might Want To Send

Asia Times - was the U.S. searching for some new type of Chinese military deployment?

Official WELCOME HOME Page From NAS Whidbey Island

U.S. Navy EP-3E Aries II - aircraft in question

Fleet Air Reconnaissance Squadron One (VQ-1) - unit to which U.S. aircraft assigned (site down due to overload)

VQ-1 Squadron - the "World Watchers"

U.S. Naval Air Facility, Misawa, Japan - VQ-1 detachment in area of operation

Kadena U.S. Air Force Air Base, Okinawa - point of departure for subject flight

U.S. Naval Air Station Whidbey Island - home of VQ-1 and the EP-3 in question

Whidbey Island Naval Air Station

Aircraft In The Story

U.S. Navy EP-3E Aries II

Chinese F-8 - the Chinese aircraft in collision

C-17 Globemaster III - U.S. Air Force plane which brought our crew home to Hawaii

C-9A/C Nightingale - U.S. Air Force plane which brought our crew from Hawaii to home at Whidbey Island Naval Air Station

The U.S. Navy Patrol Squadrons - such as VQ-1

VQ Aircraft Photo Page

Insignia of The VQ Squadrons

VP Navy - The Historic Patrol Squadrons

The VP Navy Gift Center

The Fantasy "Apology" Our Crew Might Want To Send


April 12, 2001

By Captain Guy Greider, Continental Airlines

Since the mid-air collision on April 1, 2001 between a U.S. Navy EP-3 surveillance aircraft and a Chinese jet fighter, I had watched the news with mild interest. This was mostly due to the proximity of Guam to China.

I never dreamed that I would play a role in this intensely watched Int'l l drama. Somewhere in the negotiations between the United States & the Chinese Governments, it was decided that a civilian aircraft should be sent to retrieve the 24 crew members being detained on Hainan Island, China. A call was made to Continental Airlines headquarters in Houston, Texas. Continental was chosen because of its Guam base & its ability to launch this kind of operation at a moment s notice. From there, the operation took shape through the tireless efforts of many people working behind the scenes in a coordinated effort between the airline, the military, and the State Dept. On Sat., April 7, 2001, I received a call at home from Captain Ralph Freeman, Continental Micronesia Director of Flight Operations. Ralph told me that the military wanted to charter one of our jets to conduct a rescue mission and asked if I would be one of the crew members. I said yes without hesitation. Later we were told that we would need to get passport pictures taken in case the Chinese Government required visas. We got the required photos & were under the impression that we would leave immediately. However, the negotiations slowed over the demand from the Chinese that the U.S. issue an apology that the U.S. was unwilling to give. Meanwhile, the Continental crew remained on call 24 hours a day. Our Uniforms were laid out and our bags were packed & waiting by the door.

On Wed. evening April 11, 2001, at about 630 PM Ralph called again to say that the parties were very close to an agreement to release the U.S. crew & to come to the airport. Upon arrival, we were given a briefing sheet listing the information that we would need to conduct the flight. We would carry a Repatriation Team consisting of Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force specialists, 14 people in all. Doctors, Psychologists, & communications people with lots of gear showed up on the ramp near the airplane, ready to board. They were all dressed in casual civilian clothes. The 155 seat jet was fitted with 2 full stretcher kits bolted in over rows of seats complete with Oxygen tanks and I.V. bottles. They did not know the condition of the 24 detained crew members and they were not going to take any chances. They were prepared. When our crew was fully assembled, it consisted of 11 people: 2 pilots to fly the jet and an extra to provide relief because of the extensive flight time involved. They were Captain Tom Pinardo, Captain Pierre Frenay & me, Captain Guy Greider. We also carried 5 very experienced Flight Attendants. They were Debbie Percell, Susanne Hendricks, Jean Tang, Cynthia Iverson, & Beverly Haines. Our 2 onboard mechanics were Peter Lum and Julius Aguilo. Our load planner was Mike Torres. At about 930 PM we received a call asking that we arrive in China no earlier than 600 AM, just about sunrise. It was obvious that the entire exchange would be photographed and they wanted daylight conditions. We estimated that a 215 AM departure from Guam would put us on the ground in Haikou precisely at 600 AM local China time. (2 hours earlier than Guam) Some of us just stayed on the plane, others accepted the company s invitation to come to the Continental President's Club, a local VIP lounge at the airport to try to get some rest. It was difficult to get any rest with our much anticipated mission so near. By 100 AM the pilots were back in the briefing room going over the weather, flight plan, fuel requirements and everything else that goes into a flight.

We loaded up the airplane & finally departed Guam Int'l at precisely 215 AM. The stretcher kits & medical gear were not the only special additions to the airplane. The company had loaded a special file into the navigation database of the flight management computer (FMC). This allowed us to gain access to navigation data needed to operate in this part of China, which is not in our normal route structure. The Repatriation Team carried sophisticated equipment to communicate with the military and government officials that would monitor our progress throughout the flight. The route of flight took us straight west from Guam toward the Philippines along the G467 airway.

About half way across we turned N. directly toward Hong Kong. This routing was designed to avoid flying through Taiwanese airspace, something that the Chinese could consider offensive. Approaching the Chinese coastline, we contacted Hong Kong radar control. After establishing radar contact with us, the controller gave us a short cut to expedite his traffic flow. This was bad because it cut off considerable distance & would result in arriving too early. We compensated by slowing our airspeed until the computer again estimated a 600 AM arrival. The instant we turned across the short cut, the interphone rang from the back of the plane. They wanted to know why we had deviated from the flight plan. We told them it was due to Hong Kong traffic and that we had adjusted our airspeed. We were still on schedule. Now we were approaching our destination, Haikou airport on Hainan Island.

Captain Pierre Frenay was at the controls. The weather was 2000 ft overcast with 5 miles visibility and light winds out of the east. Pierre made an ILS approach to and landed on runway 9. Haikou airport is much the same as many other airports in the world that serve jet transport aircraft. It has an 11,000 ft runway with standard lighting and navigational facilities. We touched down at 607 AM. The first early morning light was beginning to illuminate the sky. The local air traffic controller instructed us to follow a vehicle that was beside us on an adjacent taxiway. He led us to a remote part of the airport, away from the main terminal buildings. Once we had parked & shut down the engines, we saw many uniformed Chinese military personnel and vehicles. They did not appear to have weapons.

Portable stairs were brought up to the airplane and we opened the main cabin door. The Repatriation Team that we carried had been briefed to close down all of their communications equipment prior to landing and put it away. They were also briefed to remain in their seats in a non-threatening posture in case the Chinese military came aboard. The 1st & only person to come aboard was an Air China employee. He spoke English & was to act as the translator between our group and the Chinese military. He instructed us to have everyone fill out both arrival and departure documents. He collected all of our passports and left the aircraft. Before he left, he said that only one person at a time would be allowed to deplane. Peter Lum, one of our mechanics went down to supervise the re-fueling and servicing of the airplane.

When that was complete, I went down to do the walk-around inspection. I did this rather slowly because I wanted to have a chance to look around. While I was out on the ramp, a skirmish developed between people who were trying to climb a wall to photograph our aircraft and the Chinese police. Somehow, CNN managed to carry our arrival & departure live. Once the airplane was serviced and ready to go, we looked anxiously around for any sign of the buses that carried our 24 detainees. Before that could happen however, we had a problem to deal with. A U.S. military General who was on the scene to assist in the transfer came storming up the stairs and demanded to speak with the Captain. Tom Pinardo responded. The General said that the entire mission was now in jeopardy. A document called the general declaration, which is standard on all Int'l flights had listed the destination as Haikou, China R.O.C. The initials ROC stand for Republic of China which is .. Taiwan! The Chinese were very upset over this. Tom quickly crossed out ROC and replaced it with P.R.O.C. the Peoples Republic of China. This seemed to satisfy them.

With the airplane ready to go and the paperwork complete, 2 buses pulled up and the 24 U.S. service men and women saluted as they bolted up the stairs & settled into the back of the plane. When the last one was aboard, our passports were returned to us. The stairs were withdrawn, the cabin door closed, and we started the engines & departed. It was my turn at the controls. Once airborne heading straight south we broke through the clouds into the bright sunshine.

Pierre made a PA announcement that we were over Int'l waters &leaving Chinese airspace. A great cheer rose from the back of the airplane.

A short while later we received a telephone patch over the HF radio from Mr. Joseph Prueher, U.S Ambassador to China. He wanted to speak with Lt. Shane Osborne the 26 year old EP-3 Aircraft Commander.

Lt. Osborne came to the cockpit and put on a headset. The Ambassador told him that on behalf of the President of the United States & the entire country he wanted to say welcome home . He went on to say how proud he was of everything the crew had done from their airmanship in saving the lives of the crew & aircraft, to their conduct on the ground once they had been detained. They had truly done an excellent job.

After his conversation with the Ambassador, Lt. Osborne stayed in the cockpit for quite a while and told us his story pilot to pilot of what had happened during and immediately after the mid-air collision with the F-8 Chinese fighter.

The fighter came up under their left wing. This pilot made 2 very close passes previously that day. He apparently misjudged the intercept and his vertical stabilizer struck the outboard left propeller on the EP-3. The U.S. plane was in straight and level flight on autopilot at the time. The fighter broke into two pieces and plunged into the sea. The U.S. plane rolled to the left almost inverted, the pilot lost control and they began to lose altitude. The Chinese fighter had raked back across the fuselage & knocked off the nose cone causing the aircraft to buffet wildly. When the nose cone departed the aircraft it collided with and damaged the number 4 propeller on the right wing. The collision punctured the pressure vessel and the EP-3 depressurized. The collision also knocked off the pitot tubes eliminating airspeed and altitude indications in the cockpit. It also knocked off the forward bracket for the HF radio antenna. The antenna then flew back &wrapped around the tail. "We were almost upside down & totally out of control," Osborne told us. The dive continued & some crew members donned parachutes. At about 8,000 feet, Osborne regained straight and level flight. They considered ditching the aircraft in the South China Sea but dismissed that option because it was certain to result in loss of life.

They headed for the nearest land, Hainan Island. The U.S. crew now faced the most difficult landing of their lives. They made numerous mayday, mayday, mayday radio calls on internationally recognized emergency frequencies. The Chinese did not respond. Somehow, they managed to get the airplane on the ground. Their next immediate task was to destroy the sensitive electronic surveillance equipment aboard the EP-3. Meanwhile the Chinese military had approached the aircraft in vehicles and were yellingat them through loudspeakers to deplane. The next 11 days would be a very uncertain time for them.

When we met them, they told us that they had not been abused or mistreated. Their food was adequate and plentiful. Sort of like eating in a Chinese restaurant every day one of them said. On the 4th day, they got some coffee. On the 5th day, some cokes were provided. The crew did not know what kind of transport would be provided for their return home. They were pleased and surprised to see a chartered airliner from the United States.

The rest of the flight from Haikou to Anderson AFB on Guam was uneventful. During the 5 hour flight the crew was treated to the movie -- Men of Honor & enjoyed a 1st class meal. We did not know it at the time but our landing at Anderson AFB was carried live on national television. We taxied to the parking ramp at Anderson where many people had turned out to welcome all of us home. Individuals &families with kids, both military & civilian waved American flags & cheered, showing support for the returning U.S. spy plane crew.

Once the 24 U.S. crewmembers & the military Repatriation Team had deplaned at Anderson, they immediately boarded waiting buses & were whisked away. The Continental crew then became the object of intense media attention. CNN, MSNBC, ABC, NBC, Reuters and various print media interviewed us. A dizzying swirl of attention after a very long day. We were happy, tired, & pleased that the mission was so successful as Tom flew the last segment, a 10-minute flight back to Guam Int'l Airport. This time our passengers included Bill Meehan, President of Continental Micronesia, Guam Governor Carl Gutierrez, Lieutenant Governor Bordallo & others.

We thought the day was just about over but we had one more surprise in store. After landing, we were given a hero s welcome of our own. The airport fire department was in place to give us the traditional water cannon salute, a rainbow arch of water for us to taxi under. A reception was held at the gate with food, balloons, commemorative plaques, and more media interviews with the local television station. This was very heady stuff.

As I look back on this one of a kind operation. It could not have happened without the tremendous effort and skills of many people working behind the scenes. Bill Meehan, Mitch Dubner at the SOCC in Houston, Tom Rinow at the CMI SOCC, Captain Ralph Freeman, CMI Director of Flight Operations & many others had major rolls in coordinating this flight. It was accomplished through teamwork. The fact that it came off without a hitch is testimony to how well all these people did their jobs.

Captain Guy Greider, Continental Airlines

Flight of The U.S. Navy EP-3E Aries II

Response To Request For A U.S. "Apology" To The Peoples Republic of China

-- as best we can determine, the scene depicted below reflects the mood in Washington, D.C. on April 12 2001.

-- the day of release for Crew of the U.S. Navy EP-3E Aries II.
-- downed in China after being struck by a Chinese F-8 .
-- U.S. relies on universal flight rules & past acts of Chinese for which U.S. has complained,
-- making clear total lack of U.S. responsibility for the incident of April 1 2001,

-- a lumbering propeller plane on autopilot is hit by jet fighter on it's 3rd pass,

-- NO APOLOGY is either necessary or proper
-- U.S. 24 crew is lucky & has survived only by American skill
-- contrary flight analysis is invited.
--There can be NO APOLOGY.

The Fantasy Apology

Fantasy "Apology" Delivered By U.S. Cruise Missiles

Intended To Demonstrate Attitude - Not Intent. Levity Can Often Lessen Tension

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