Lt. Shane Osborn, 26, wrestled the heavily damaged aircraft to the ground about 20 minutes after it collided with a Chinese F-8 fighter plane that Rumsfeld said was "maneuvering aggressively" and caused the crash.
Osborn and Rumsfeld spoke by satellite phone Thursday while Osborn and the rest of the 24-person crew were on a C-17 between Guam and Hawaii, having just been released from 11 days of confinement.
A transcript provided by the Pentagon follows:
Osborn: "... I'm Lt. Osborn. I want to thank you very much on behalf of my crew. It was a great crew that worked well together to get the job done and now we're ready to come home."
Rumsfeld: "I'd like to ask you just two questions of the two issues that have been handled thus far pretty much only by the other side. One has to do with the issue of how the incident occurred and whether or not the EP-3 turned [into the Chinese jet]. And of course the version we hear out of the [People's Republic of China] is very different from what I understand to be the case. Could you just briefly tell me what happened? Over."
Osborn: "Uh, Secretary Rumsfeld, this is Lt. Osborn. Sir, that is a negative, the only turn the aircraft took was after impact, and where we had a severe left roll after impact into my number-one propeller and nose."
Rumsfeld: "The second question I have involves the issue as to whether or not you had permission to land. As I understand it, you issued repeated requests to land and repeated mayday calls. Is that correct? Over."
Osborn: "Sir, to amplify the first answer, we were using autopilot, steady altitude and course throughout the entire event until impact, and upon landing we issued about 10 to 15 guard calls and we were unable to hear any response that they did give due to holes in my pressure bulkhead causing air noise into the aircraft, sir. So, what I did was I made repeated calls. I did not over-fly land until I had the field in sight, then flew perpendicular to the field to make sure there were [inaudible] or personnel on the airstrip, did a 270, dropped the gear and landed, sir."
Rumsfeld: "Well, that is ... I'm glad to hear that first-hand, and I hope you will give my great respect to your crew."
Osborn: "Yes, sir. I'm very proud of them. They have performed valiantly and we're all proud of the job we've done and we want to thank you and the whole administration for getting us home in such a timely manner, sir."
Rumsfeld: "Well, good luck. I look forward to meeting you someday and my best to everyone. Thank you very much, and out."
Osborn: "Thank you, sir. This is Lt. Osborn ... out."
Copyright 2001 by United Press International.
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