Friday, February 8th 2002 - 20:00 UTC

?Lost' Argentine Pucara found.

A crashed Argentine Pucara aircraft, which was shot down during the Falklands War, and which has remained virtually undetected ever since, has recently been ?found' in a remote area of the Falklands.

A511 sits practically intact in a grass-covered valley, nearly 20 miles from Goose Green settlement, undisturbed and in peace. The pilot, Major Carlos Tomba, was according to aviation experts, ?extremely fortunate' to survive, having ejected just moments before the aircraft hit the ground. Despite injuries, as a result of the rapid ejection, he walked unaided back to Goose Green settlement, much to the amazement of his colleagues.

On 21 May 1982 as British troops established a ?beach head' at San Carlos, Argentine Pucara aircraft, based at Goose Green, some 30 miles away, were dispatched to try and halt the progress of the British. Major Tomba, in the slow-moving Pucara, came under severe attack from a Royal Air Force Harrier aircraft piloted by Major ?Sharkey' Ward.

The Pucara was riddled with cannon fire, and pieces of the aircraft were seen falling to the ground, but Major Tomba bravely refused to abandon his Pucura. Eventually, after a hectic chase and with the aircraft rapidly losing height, and with flames and smoke pouring from the fuselage, he was forced to press the ejector button.

Major Ward in his published account of the war, paid tribute to the skill and bravery of the Argentine pilot.

Soon after the end of the war, two shepherds, Brian Hewitt and Tony McMullen, while herding sheep, unexpectedly discovered the Pucara. British Forces cleared the aircraft of its ammunition, and for safety purposes, removed the co-pilots ejector seat. Because of its isolated location, the aircraft has not, like other war victims, been subjected to a multitude of souvenir hunters.

Recently, following a concerted search, Pucara A511 was re-discovered, sitting virtually undisturbed, ?in the middle of nowhere'; with only a few sheep grazing some distance away, for company.

As the 20th anniversary of the Falklands War will be remembered this year, it is not inconceivable that Major Tomba may return to view the aircraft that he so desperately tried to safe.

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