Soldier makes biggest jump of his life to survive C-130 crash

    MANILA, Philippines – A soldier made the "biggest jump of his life" so he could survive from the burning C-130 aircraft that crashed in Sulu on Sunday, July 4.

    Private First Class Nathaniel Bongcayao jumped off the burning C-130
    Private First Class Nathaniel Bongcayao jumped off the burning C-130 | Photo Courtesy: Facebook/Sky-Shine Padilla

    Private First Class Nathaniel Bongcayao recalled his experience of how he was able to evade death by jumping off the tail of the burning plane.

    On Sunday, Bongcayao, along with his comrades were excited for their first assignment after passing their training last June. They were new privates of the Philippine Army and will be assigned in Sulu to help counter-terrorism efforts in the area. According to Bongcayao, they were all in high spirits and that he even made a TikTok video prior to their flight.

    The servicemen boarded the C-130 that took off from Lumbia Airport in Cagayan de Oro City. According to Bongcayao, the flight all the way to Jolo was fine until the aircraft short-landed at 11:30 in the morning.

    "Pagsakay namin sa C-130, okay pa naman. Okay pa naman ang lipad sa ibabaw tapos pagdating namin sa Jolo, Sulu parang iba na ang takbo. Parang hindi talaga normal, parang maano talaga kami noong araw na ‘yun," he recalled.

    The soldier said that the impact of their first crash landing sent them flying inside the plane. It was then that everything went dark and they started fearing for their lives.

    Bongcayao went on to share that their pilot, Major Emmanuel Makalintal, tried to regain power to make the airplane lift and fly again. He was trying to possibly turn and make their second landing safe but it failed.

    According to Bongcayao, one of their plane's blades hit a coconut tree which led them crashing to the ground. Due to the impact, the aircraft split into two and immediately, the front part of the military aircraft exploded.

    “Pinapalipad niya ulit ang C-130 kasi babangga kami sa pader. Noong pinapalipad na niya, hindi na nakayanan kaya bumagsak kami sa mga puno ng niyog. Doon na kami nagpanic. Sumabog na ang harapan ng C-130," the soldier recalled.

    As desperation and fear creep in as the fire begins to envelope the plane, Bongcayao and some of his comrades found a way to escape. As the pilot cabin was on fire, they went through the tail of the plane and jumped off. It was the leap that saved their lives.

    “Tumalon ako sa pwetan ng eroplano kasi sumabog na ‘yon so nakakita kami ng butas. Ako ‘yong last na tumalon doon kasi tutulungan ko pa sana ang iba kong tropa kaso hindi na kaya dahil sobrang init talaga sa ilalim," he said.

    Upon landing from the jump, Bongcayao was mortified to see the burnt bodies of his comrades.

    “Pagtalon ko, nakita ko lang sa paligid ‘yong mga kasama ko na nakatihaya, nakahandusay sa gilid. Sunog ang katawan. Gusto ko sana silang tulungan pero wala naman akong magagawa kasi wala na, sunog na rin ako," he added.

    The soldier survived the incident with burns and injuries. Upon knowing that Bongcayao survived, his partner Sky-Shine Padilla, was beyond thankful.

    “Salamat sa imong kaayo Lord wala nemu gepasagdan akong hubby sa gitna na ng kamatayan iniligtas niyo pa rin siya. Thanks, God!," she wrote on Facebook.

    — Sally, The Summit Express


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