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Briefing on Search and Rescue efforts for John F. Kennedy Jr.

Presenters: Rear Admiral Craig Quigley, DASD PA
July 17, 1999

Also participating in this briefing are Rear Admiral Richard Larrabee, USCG, Commander 1st Coast Guard District, Boston; Colonel Johnny Whitaker, USAF, Deputy Director, Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs; Commander Mike Lapinski, USCG, U.S. Coast Guard Headquarters; and Lieutenant Colonel Steve Roark, USAF, Air Force Rescue Coordination Center, Langley Air Force Base, Virginia.

RADM Quigley: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen.

We have brought together this afternoon because this is an easily-used facility both the Department of Defense and the Coast Guard to try to describe to you what each of those organizations is doing in the search for John Kennedy's aircraft.

I will introduce momentarily Colonel Johnny Whitaker from the Air Force and then we will have the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center at Langley Air Force Base in Virginia, that's down in southeast Virginia, that is where the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center is located. We will have a Lieutenant Colonel Steve Roark will be talking to you and he will describe what the Air Force has been coordinating since early this morning.

You'll be free to ask your questions through the microphones over your head.

When that is done, I'll introduce Commander Mike Lapinski from the Coast Guard here in Washington, D.C. And we'll have, again on the phone, the 1st Coast Guard District Headquarters in Boston, Rear Admiral Richard Larrabee. He is the Commander of the 1st Coast Guard District up there in Boston. Again, you'll have the opportunity to ask questions. You'll hear it coming through the speakers. That's our intention this afternoon.

Any questions on mechanics before we get started?

Colonel Johnny Whitaker is the Deputy Director of Air Force Public Affairs here in the Pentagon, and we'll start with him.

Col. Whitaker: What we've got, just some basic background, and when we get Lieutenant Colonel Roark on the phone here he can fill in the details.

The Air Force was notified - the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center is the official name of the organization, at Langley Air Force Base. It's actually in Hampton, Virginia, which is just north of Norfolk in the Tidewater area. Received a call through the FAA around 3:00 o'clock this morning that Mr. Kennedy's aircraft was overdue and they began their search and rescue efforts. Again, I'll let Colonel Roark explain in detail what that will be. They're searching along the presumed flight path between Essex County Airport near Caldwell, New Jersey, and Martha's Vineyard. They're also looking around Martha's Vineyard, Long Island Sound, and the South Shore of Long Island.

Right now the Air Force has involved an HC-130 aircraft which we use for search and rescue. It's an Air National Guard aircraft out of Gabreski Field in New York. It is acting as the airborne air traffic control aircraft coordinating the efforts of fifteen Civil Air Patrol aircraft which are... the Civil Air Patrol is the official civilian auxiliary of the United States Air Force. It's a volunteer organization that participates in some 80 percent of search and rescue type of operations, mostly the search portion of the operations that occur in the United States today.

With those 15 aircraft are approximately 156 Civil Air Patrol personnel. They're conducting searches from the air over land and along shore lines.

Q: What kind of planes?

Col. Whitaker: They're usually single engine, Cessna, Piper type aircraft. General aviation.

Q: (inaudible)

Col. Whitaker: Some are owned by the Air Force, some are privately owned.

They're looking for a Piper Saratoga which is the type of aircraft that Mr. Kennedy was flying. It's a six-seat mono-plane, low wing, single engine, with retractable landing gear.

Q: (inaudible)

Col. Whitaker: No, I don't.

That's pretty much it. This is normal procedure. The Air Force Rescue Coordination Center, the mission of that organization, it's the single agency responsible for federal search and rescue in the 48 contiguous United States. Generally we do these in conjunction with other agencies, in this case the Coast Guard. We also will assist search and rescue efforts in Canada and Mexico, if needed, and they are involved in another search effort currently which is a mountain climber in Oregon. There's a missing climber in Oregon. So it's not just downed aircraft. They look for lost people, lost aircraft. They're a very busy 24-hour operation.

Q: This is a very widespread area you're going around. There are reports, ABC is reporting that the plane possibly went into a dive about 19 miles up the coast of Martha's Vineyard. Does that mean you'll start pulling away from other areas if in fact you're getting...

Col. Whitaker: Let me let Colonel Roark address that because he's the expert in that. In fact, let me go ahead and get him on. Lieutenant Colonel Steve Roark. He's currently the Director of the U.S. Air Force's National Search and Rescue School which is at the U.S. Coast Guard Station in Yorktown, Virginia. He is the former Director of the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center. He is physically in the Rescue Coordination Center right not. Colonel Roark is an H-53 helicopter pilot. He's personally been involved in over 1,000 rescues, search and rescue operations in his career.

Steve, are you there?

Lt. Col. Roark: Yes, sir. I am here.

Col. Whitaker: Okay, we're going to open it up for questions for you.

Q: Colonel Roark, Martha Raddatz from ABC. ABC is reporting today that the plane possibly went into a dive about 19 miles off the coast of Martha's Vineyard. Does that mean the search will start focusing right there and you will pull away from say Long Island or other areas you're searching? Or will you pretty much go about what you're doing?

Lt. Col. Roark: We'll continue on the same track that we're on which is to search the entire area. We have nothing that absolutely pinpoints one area as opposed to another so we can't rule out the entire flight.

Q: Are you hearing those reports at all about 19 miles off Martha's Vineyard? The radar indicated that at some point the plane may have gone into a dive.

Lt. Col. Roark: The radar position is just a last possible position and it can't even be confirmed that it's "the" aircraft we're looking for, so again, we can't rule out any other areas.

Q: Colonel Roark, Campbell Brown with NBC News. There have been reports coming from the area that possibly a shoe or some wreckage may have been found already. Can you confirm or deny those reports?

Lt. Col. Roark: I have no knowledge of that.

Q: I was going to ask about the wreckage myself. But Colonel, the radar signatures, we've heard a number of reports as ABC mentioned about the plane disappearing from radar. Can you say where this evidence is coming from? Is that from local radar? Is that from an area radar? Is that satellite imagery that we're talking about? How exactly do you track when a plane leaves the radar?

Lt. Col. Roark: We work very closely with the Federal Aviation Administration and their en route traffic control centers. These centers are primarily concerned with aircraft on IFR flight plans. However, they do have the ability to track almost any aircraft that's out there. However, they are limited by altitudes. So an aircraft going off the radar could simply have been descending to shoot an approach at an airfield and that may be why it went off radar.

RADM Quigley: Colonel Roark, this is Admiral Quigley here from the Pentagon again. Can you start off, please, with a description of what assets are involved and what areas you have them deployed in, kind of as a scene-setter here?

Lt. Col. Roark: Yes, sir. Currently we have, as Colonel Whitaker mentioned, we have 15 aircraft from five different Civil Air Patrol wings in the northeast region. They are primarily, because they are single engine light aircraft, sticking over the land and very close to the land, looking over shore lines and those types of areas.

We have two helicopters, HH-60 helicopters from the 106th Rescue Wing that are over the water, since they are twin engine aircraft we feel safer using them over the water, and they are searching those areas along with the HC-130 which is providing command and control and also doing some searching. That's Air Force. Then we have two helicopters from the Coast Guard also providing over water search along with, my understanding is at this time two boats from the Coast Guard out in that area.

Q: Could you please specify exactly when the U.S. Government was notified of the lost plane and how long it took for the first planes to be up searching and what were they, and how this search differs from a search of somebody who isn't a celebrity?

Lt. Col. Roark: We treat all searches the same. There is no difference between celebrity or non-celebrity. Our job is for all the citizens of the United States. I believe it was approximately 3:00 a.m. local time that we got the information from the FAA that the aircraft was overdue. They had received word from family members. Our routine at that point is to start investigating, because a large proportion of these overdue aircraft do turn up simply at an airport somewhere, so we started our investigation which turned up no results. We started working very closely with the Coast Guard at that time because of the water involvement. I believe the Coast Guard was the first agency to launch aircraft at around 7:30 to 7:55 this morning. Then we've added aircraft as the day wore on.

Q: Can you talk about the beacon and when that went off and actually how it worked and why we would hear it at a certain time and not others?

Lt. Col. Roark: Certainly. All general aviation, or most general aviation aircraft, are required to carry emergency locator transmitters which are built to be crash activated. So if the airplane actually did impact somewhere, the ELT is supposed to go off. Then we have the ability through both satellite technology and from other aircraft that are flying to hear the beacon and try and locate it.

My understanding was there was a very short beacon heard sometime this morning, but we've read no more about that and haven't been able to pinpoint any activity or even be assured that it's associated with the missing aircraft.

Q: Colonel, what would water do to a beacon?

Lt. Col. Roark: The depth of the water would certainly make it harder to transmit. They are built to be somewhat water resistant, but I don't have all the details on that. But at certain depths they're not going to be able to transmit.

Q: Linda Killian from People Magazine. I just wonder if there's any information about why when the plane was expected in about 9:30, if there's any idea why you were not notified until 3:00 in the morning, and how important those hour were in terms of actually finding the plane now.

Lt. Col. Roark: Again, we get our notifications of overdue and missing aircraft from the Federal Aviation Administration. The only way they learned about it -- since there was no flight plan filed -- was through the family reporting the overdue. And, as soon as they got that information, we started working it. Would it have made any difference? I don't think so because of the night and our standard research procedures.

Q: How long did the...

Q: What was the reason for the four-hour delay between when you first learned of the missing plane and when the first plane went up looking for it? And am I right in understanding what you said before that there are no additional planes searching for this particular lost plane than there would be if John Kennedy was a completely unknown person?

Lt. Col. Roark: I've had experience in several of these searches, and it's not unusual to have dozens of aircraft searching for anybody that's missing. So this is not unusual.

Q: What about the situation in Oregon? Are dozens of planes and a helicopter looking for that person?

Lt. Col. Roark: Actually, that person is a known location, it's a climber that was injured on a mountain up there, has some internal injuries, and we're using, again, an Air Force Reserve unit out of Portland to go pick that person up because of the capabilities of the aircraft.

Q: How long are you planning to continue this search?

Lt. Col. Roark: I can't speculate on that right now.

Q: One other question that wasn't answered before about what the reason was for the delay between notification at 3:00 a.m. and starting the search four and a half or five hours later.

Lt. Col. Roark: Again, I wasn't here at that timeframe, but I know it does take time to research. We look at other possible landing sites and try to gather information. Rather than sending aircraft out willy-nilly we try to look and do investigation and come up with a good plan rather than just sending them out helter skelter.

Q: Colonel, back on assets. Is that C-130 out of West Hampton Beach the Air National Guard up on this one?

Lt. Col. Roark: Yes.

Q: That's the same crew that went up in search of TWA 800, right?

Lt. Col. Roark: That unit was involved in the search for TWA 800 and, in fact, I believe they had a helicopter and a C-130 from that unit as that accident occurred.

Q: Colonel, what technology is being used to actually pick up the beacon signal? You mentioned satellite and other types of equipment that could pick it up. Do the Civil Air Patrol plans actually have transponders they could pick up the beacon? Or are you using intelligence or satellite assets for that?

Lt. Col. Roark: There are two ways to do this.

All of the aircraft involved in the search, the Air Force, the Coast Guard and the Civil Air Patrol aircraft have direction-finding equipment. This beacon is a very simple, puts out a signal on a specified frequency and anybody monitoring that frequency could hear it. However, all of the aircraft involved in the search have the ability to direction-find to that signal if there was one.

The other part of the system is a system that's been in use internationally for coming up on 20 years now, and that's called the Search and Rescue Satellite-Aided Tracking System which also monitors for these signals and has the ability to determine a location if the signal is heard for a long enough time.

Q: Do you have any sense for what sort of radar communication there was from the plane during the flight? Did they check in with New York or Long Island or Boston or the Cape? Do you have any awareness of that?

Lt. Col. Roark: I only know for sure that they did not talk to the tower at Martha's Vineyard. Along the route they may have spoken to somebody but not at Martha's Vineyard.

Q: Certainly not at Martha's, they never made contact with the tower at Martha's Vineyard.

Lt. Col. Roark: That's my understanding.

Q: You've been searching since 7:55 a.m. this morning. Do you all have any leads? Have you come up with anything at all that's helped you narrow your search somewhat? Are you essentially right where you started this morning?

Lt. Col. Roark: We're still concentrating on the entire route of the flight. This is not uncommon. In fact this is somewhat of a smaller search than what we're used to. We do this all the time here. We have hundreds of overdue aircraft every year. In fact this is smaller than what I would call the average search.

Q: In terms of the number of aircraft involved or the time we're into right now?

Lt. Col. Roark: In terms of the coverage, the area involved. This has been described as approximately 1000 squares miles. It's not unusual to have missions involving tens of thousands of square miles.

Q: Does that mean that you dedicate more assets to a search like that than you would to this one?

Lt. Col. Roark: It would take more assets, yes.

Q: Colonel Roark, you mentioned that no flight plan was filed. Is that normal even when the visual flight rules are in place or the instrument flight rules are in place?

Lt. Col. Roark: That's very normal. As a matter of fact the majority of VFR aircraft do not file flight plans.

Q: And the weather was okay last night? Was the instrument flight rules in place last night?

Lt. Col. Roark: I have no knowledge of that and I'm not sure of Mr. Kennedy's ratings.

Q: You talked about not wanting to send planes out helter skelter, willy nilly. And yet those hours seem like they would be critical if in fact someone was down and injured. Why wouldn't you sent out someone right away if that possibility existed?

Lt. Col. Roark: If there was the ability to communicate or if, for example if this ELT was going off, any aircraft in the area, to include aircraft on approach into New York and JFK, places like that, would have heard it.

Q: You were made aware when you were notified about 3:00 a.m. immediately that this plane was believed to be carrying John Kennedy Jr?

Lt. Col. Roark: I'm not sure of that.

Q: What exact time was the first beacon heard?

Lt. Col. Roark: I don't know that information either.

Q: Do you have a rough time?

Lt. Col. Roark: No, I don't. I didn't bring that information with me.

Q: Is there a location on this beacon signal? Earlier reports said that was more along Long Island. Is that accurate?

Lt. Col. Roark: I believe that's correct. I believe that was somewhere in the vicinity of Montauk.

Q: One of our correspondents was flying in the area that night, and he said initial reports that conditions were good, it was visual flight rules, but he found that when he was in the air, that it was actually very hazy and not as clear as the earlier weather reports. Do you have any indication or have you talked to other pilots who were perhaps flying at the time that perhaps the weather was not as good as it was originally reported?

Lt. Col. Roark: No, I have not done that. I haven't spoken to anybody else about the weather.

Col. Whitaker: Steve, if you'll stay on the line, we want to get the Coast Guard up here. We may come back to you in a few minutes.

RADM Quigley: But you won't hear from the speakers because we'll need to put the Coast Guard up on the same set of speakers.

The next person that I'd like to...

Let me address one thing, first. Lots of questions on weather and other things. These are the folks that are doing the search as opposed to the weather over the flight path last night. So we'll try to help you as much as we can but a lot of the areas that I fully understand you're going to be interested in, these guys are not going to have the answers that you're looking for along those lines. I'm sorry.

Commander Mike Lapinski is with the Coast Guard here at Coast Guard Headquarters in Washington, D.C. and he will be followed, again, by Rear Admiral Larrabee from Coast Guard District Headquarters up in Boston, 1st District.

Commander Lapinski: Good afternoon. I wanted to let you know that I will be available afterward to talk about Coast Guard policy and to line you up with additional Coast Guard spokesmen in the field.

The Coast Guard is responsible for maritime search and rescue throughout the United States maritime regions and typically conducts up to 50,000 search and rescue missions in a typical year. Admiral Larrabee, as Admiral Quigley pointed out, will be on the phone shortly to take some of your questions and to provide you with some information.

As Commander of the 1st Coast Guard District he's in charge of Coast Guard operational assets from the Canadian border down south to offshore from central New Jersey. He controls all the Coast Guard air and sea surface assets in that region, and the folks that work and answer directly to him are the search and rescue coordinators up in Boston that are managing the maritime aspects of this particular case.

Admiral Larrabee, are you there?

RADM Larrabee: Yes, I am.

Commander Lapinski: Did you want to open with a statement, sir?

RADM Larrabee: I am not in my office, I'm actually in a car on my way to the office. I know you've started the press conference, so I'm not sure where we are.

RADM Quigley: Admiral Larrabee, this is Admiral Quigley. Could you start with a scene-setter, if you could, of what Coast Guard assets are involved and some of the coordination efforts in your area of responsibility since notification this morning?

RADM Larrabee: [Admiral], we were notified by a friend of the Kennedy's at about 0215 this morning that he was overdue. With that notification we immediately contacted the FAA who put out a search for the aircraft. We had gotten a report from the Air Force that a satellite hit occurred on an ELT, an emergency locator beacon in (inaudible), the tip of Corian Point, Long Island. That indication was that it was over land, but we also sent out a vessel, searched the area pretty thoroughly and couldn't pick up any debris or any indication of a problem.

Since then we have launched Coast Guard aviation assets, two H-60s searching the area from Martha's Vineyard to the tip of Long Island. A Coast Guard jet, HU-25 searching Long Island, and in coordination with an Air Force C-130 searching the south short of Long Island.

Since that time we have gotten better information from both the Air Force and the FAA through radar analysis of a better location, better possible location, and we are now centering our search about 17 miles west of Martha's Vineyard, the approach to Martha's Vineyard. Indications are that we may have found some debris, and that's being investigated right now.

Q: Can you describe the debris that you found and give us more detail on specifically what it was, how much, whether it may have been part of a plane?

RADM Larrabee: I'm sorry, I could not hear that question.

Q: Can you elaborate a little bit on the debris that you all may have found?

RADM Larrabee: The information that I got that has just come in and needs to be confirmed is that we found a piece of luggage, and we're trying to confirm that now.

Q: What time did you first find the debris?

RADM Larrabee: It's just been in the last couple of minutes that I got notification of it.

Q: Can you tell us the water depth in this area?

RADM Larrabee: I can't give you that information.

Q: What about the temperature?

RADM Larrabee: I can get it to you but I don't have that with me.

Q: Can you also tell us and explain to us why there might have been a beacon going off on Long Island? Is this something that happens fairly regularly that you get these false beacons, if that's what it was?

RADM Larrabee: Yes, it is. The 1215 beacon that went off is typical of those types of devices. We get a high false alarm rate on those kind of devices. This was picked up by a satellite. We investigate all of those. This one turned out a negative signal. By the time we got out there the signal had ceased and there were no indications in the area that there was anything amiss.

Q: Are there any reports of beacons being indicated in the Martha's Vineyard area, or is it just the debris?

RADM Larrabee: Not to my knowledge.

Q: Admiral, Chris Plante with CNN. You just said there was some indication that there are reports you had just in that luggage was found in the wreckage west of Martha's Vineyard. We're hearing that the name Lauren Bessette was on the luggage. Can you confirm that or do you know whether that's true one way or another?

RADM Larrabee: I can't personally confirm that at this point?

Q: Is that something you were told?

RADM Larrabee: Yes.

Q: It is...

RADM Larrabee: No, I've been told that there was some sighting of debris. We are investigating it. I can't give you any more information than that.

Q: Is that why you're limiting the search to this particular area off of Martha's Vineyard? That's where you found the luggage and that's why you're concentrating it there now?

RADM Larrabee: This is very recent information. Up until now we have been searching basically the track line that we suspected they flew last night. We have been trying to focus our search in a much more concentrated area, obviously. This information along with the information from the FAA and the Air Force will be very helpful to us.

Q: Did the radar tracks that you analyzed show Kennedy's plane early in its profile and then disappeared in later tracks?

RADM Larrabee: I can't answer those questions. I've been in touch with the FAA all day and they have been working very hard at analyzing all of their radar information. The best information we have currently is that the best location they had when they lost contact with what they believe was Mr. Kennedy's plane was 17 miles west of Martha's Vineyard.

Q: Do you have any sense of what communications were like on the flight up? The Air Force folks really didn't have a good handle on that but said they did not check in with Martha's Vineyard, could not say where else they may have checked in. Do you have any handle on that?

RADM Larrabee: No, sir. I don't. I'm not aware of any conversations whatsoever during the flight.

Q: Can you confirm that there were three people on board? There were some reports that there might have been for. Is it your information that it was John F. Kennedy Jr., and Caroline Kennedy and her sister Lauren?

RADM Larrabee: I can't confirm that information. Our role in this is to do the best job we can to locate survivors or debris. That's what we're working on. I can't confirm the number of people on board.

Q: You said you were notified by a friend or someone telling you about this missing plane. What did they say when they called about who was on it?

RADM Larrabee: The information I got was the call was made at 0215 this morning to our operating center at Coast Guard Group Woods Hall on Cape Cod. That information was immediately relayed to our operation center in Boston which got in touch with the FAA which began this whole process.

Q: Do you know who it was that called Woods Hall, Admiral?

RADM Larrabee: I don't have the name with me right now.

Q: Admiral, can you explain why there were five hours between the time that the Coast Guard first learned that the plane was missing and that the first plane went out searching for the plane?

RADM Larrabee: Are you talking about the time between about 3:00 o'clock in the morning and 7:30?

Q: Exactly.

RADM Larrabee: Once we notify the FAA they go through a very detailed effort, a communications check... a check of airfields, a check of their information as far as flight plans are concerned to determine whether or not there was in fact a flight and what their plan was. That was the process that was underway. We did get a call at about 0330 this morning from the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center who said that they did have an ELT go off, as I mentioned earlier, on Long Island, on land, and asked us to see if we could just, from a precautionary standpoint, check out the area along the shoreline there. We did that. And those things were going on until about 7:30 when we decided to launch Coast Guard aircraft.

It's my understanding that prior to that the Air Force had launched Civil Air Patrol aircraft doing shoreline search, and (inaudible) potentially this aircraft could have been in.

Q: Can you describe a little bit what that area 17 miles west of Martha's Vineyard is like, and how the luggage was found? Was it just bobbing in the water and people spotted it?

RADM Larrabee: I wish I could give you some more details but I simply can't.

RADM Quigley: Could I interject here? All of a sudden the wreckage that's been cited has magically become luggage. Okay? Those are not Admiral Larrabee's words. Please understand, okay? There has been wreckage sighted.

RADM Larrabee: You're absolutely right. I can't confirm that it's luggage. The only information I have and we're working on it now was there was some debris sighted and we're investigating that.

RADM Quigley: I must remind you, first reports are often wrong. Please, let's just say that we found something and we'll figure it out as quickly as we can.

Q: Sir, if I could, if in fact this is an area where the plane went down, would it be routine to try to recover that aircraft no matter the depth of the water?

RADM Larrabee: Right now we're trying to locate survivors. That would be the next phase of it. We have asked NOAA with one of their research vessels to potentially get involved in this case and at some point we may ask them to do some sub-surface investigation for us, but at this point we're still very hopeful that we're going to find survivors.

Q: Admiral, because they did not file a flight plan, did that take longer or make it more difficult to initiate the search?

RADM Larrabee: I think you have to ask the FAA that question. That's the role that they play in this along with the Air Force Search and Rescue Center. We were supporting this operation until about 1245 today at which time Major General McKee and I agreed that because the search was now beginning to focus over the water primarily that it would be appropriate for the Coast Guard to take over what we call the SAR Mission Coordinator, the Search and Rescue Mission Coordinator. So, as of about 1245, we have overall responsibility for the search. The Air Force will continue to provide assets and assist, but right now because of the shift in the focus of the search, my operation center in Boston is now the SAR Mission Coordinator.

Q: Admiral, do the helicopters you have employ any special radar technology that would allow them to hover low over the water and peer overland and maybe detect debris?

RADM Larrabee: I'm not familiar with that technology if it exists.

Q: Can you explain if there's any difference between the search that you are engaged in now and the search if John Kennedy was not a celebrity?

RADM Larrabee: We have deployed what we believe are the right assets to look at a very large area. It's just been in the last hour or so that we have now been able to determine that the search area may be smaller than what we originally started with this morning, and we will adjust accordingly, but our efforts are consistent with the way we search for anyone that would be lost at sea.

Q: Can you provide a little context here, tell us how many searches you're involved in comparable to this annually, and short of searches, how many calls do you get, initial calls for missing airplanes that turn out to not be an issue; and then secondly, is it normal to delay the deployment of search aircraft until dawn. Or would you, if you were fairly sure that a plane was down somewhere, deploy these assets at night?

RADM Larrabee: We search 24 hours a day. We go through a procedure in terms of doing checks. Each case is a little bit different. We, I wouldn't say we would routinely get indications of overdues, but overdues are a part of our work. We prosecute each one of those cases consistent with what we're doing now. As you progress through the phases of these kinds of cases, you naturally start to get more aggressive, depending on the information you get. Each one of them leads in a different direction and each one of them has to be handled separately.

RADM Quigley: Admiral, I'd like to have you take a couple more questions if you could, and then we'll let you get back to managing the search.

Q: Admiral, did the call at 2:15 a.m. come from family members on the Vineyard, on Cape Cod, where?

RADM Larrabee: I'm sorry, but I can't tell you exactly where the phone call came from. All I can tell you is where it went to.

Q: Admiral, at this point if you had not heard a beacon going off, is it pretty much impossible that a beacon could start going off soon? Wouldn't you have heard it by now if it was functioning?

RADM Larrabee: I don't know the answer to that question . It is possible, I suppose, for a beacon to break loose or begin operating, but I'm not sure in this case. I am personally not even sure what kind of equipment the aircraft had on board. I'm not aware of that information. I'd be speculating to try and answer your question.

RADM Quigley: One last question, Admiral.

Q: Admiral, are you all interviewing any witnesses? Have you talked to any one or heard any reports that someone may have seen something?

RADM Larrabee: There has been a tremendous amount of information provided on TV and radio and I suspect that anybody that might have had any information, as they did during TWA 800, and as they do during most of our search and rescue cases, quickly volunteer that information. I am not aware of any one providing any amplifying information in this case.

RADM Quigley: Thank you very much, Admiral Larrabee.

Ladies and gentlemen, that's all we have for you this afternoon. We'll try to be as responsive as we can be as time passes. If any of the Coast Guard or Department of Defense assets involved in the search do find something with conviction, I'm not sure where that announcement would first be made from. Very likely it would be the on-scene assets -- boat, plane, helicopter, what have you -- that might find something. But let's keep our fingers crossed that we have a successful search and can find some survivors.

Thank you.

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