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China Blames U. S. for Second Mid-Air Collision

BEIJING (Reuters) - Chinese officials have stated that they are holding the United States, "fully responsible" for today's mid-air collision, involving several Chinese aircraft and one American craft. This comes just days after a similar incident involving a U. S. spy plane.

Officials have stated that at approximately 8:25 a.m., GMT, a squadron of Chinese F-8 fighters collided with the American Goodyear Blimp. The crash left over a dozen Chinese planes downed and the blimp's electronic billboard damaged. Sources say the billboard's scrolling marquee had been advertising 7-UP soft drink, leaving the line "Up yours" in view.

A Chinese pilot who witnessed the collision between his squadron, nicknamed, "Panda Rash" told China's Xinhua news agency that he saw the American blimp dive out of the clouds and into wingman Sum Yung Gui's F-8 jet.

"I told Yung Gui his tail was all broken. Keep it straight. Keep it straight'," said the pilot. "He just couldn't shake the American foreign-devil. The blimp then reportedly veered hard left and then right, taking out the rest of the squadron.

Pilot Chawp Suey told Xinhua the American blimp "fully responsible for the incident," repeating the language Beijing has used in the earlier incident.

China blames this new accident on the Goodyear blimp, saying it rammed the supersonic fighters, and has demanded an apology.

Officials from the Goodyear Company have said it is unlikely that the slow propeller-driven blimp could turn inside and ram a dozen nimble fighters, unless the Chinese were testing chimp pilots.

"The direct cause of the collision was that the American blimp made a sudden big move toward the Chinese planes, making it impossible for the Chinese planes to get out of the way," Suey was quoted as saying.

"The savage act of American blimps colliding with Chinese planes while conducting spying activities at sporting events makes us indignant," he was quoted as saying.

Chinese officials are calling for an apology from the United States and enough Goodyear tires to replace the Firestone's that experienced spontaneous combustion last year.

U. S. officials expressed regret, but would not allow an apology until the matter could be investigated further.

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