U.S. Military Plane Cuts Italian Ski Cable, Killing Twenty People (Great Events: 1900-2001)
Article abstract: A military jet plane flying at low altitude on a training mission in northern Italy cut through the cable of a ski lift gondola. The cable car fell, killing all twenty passengers.
On February 3, 1998, a military airplane, part of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) forces patrolling the skies over Bosnia, departed on a training flight from a U.S. airbase at Aviano, Italy. The twin-engine jet, an EA-6B “Prowler,” was designed to fly very close to the ground to avoid detection by hostile antiaircraft installations. It is used for surveillance and for electronic warfare, such as jamming enemy radar to protect high-flying bombers.
The plane, manned by the pilot, a navigator, and two electronic countermeasure officers, was flying at more than five hundred miles (eight hundred kilometers) per hour at a very low altitude near Cavalese, a popular ski resort in the Dolomite Mountains of northern Italy. One wing of the plane sheared the steel cable near the ascending gondola car, causing it to crash to the ground. All twenty passengers in the gondola were killed by the impact. The descending gondola remained suspended by the cable, held by a safety mechanism, until its passengers could be rescued. The plane returned to its base without the pilot realizing that he had caused an accident.
The twenty victims who died included seven friends from one town in eastern...
(The entire section is 877 words.)
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