TAIPEI, Taiwan – The F-16 is one of the world’s most recognizable and widely used fighter jets. It has a frameless bubble canopy, an an internal M61 Vulcan cannon and 11 locations for other weapons to be mounted.
It is also quite spacious, with two seats. And even when you’ve got someone in the back, there is still quite a lot of room – so why not take advantage of it?
At least that was the logic of one Taiwanese pilot who recently flew to Hualien as part of his training, according to an Apple Daily report.
When he left Hualien and returned to base, he landed in hot water when a superior officer reportedly discovered two boxes of mochi stacked behind his seat.
In a statement, Air Force Command Headquarters said the actions, if true, would be a clear violation of the rules.
A photo circulating online doesn’t seem to leave much room for doubt.
An investigation would be immediately launched, the HQ said, adding that the officer could be charged with dereliction of duty.
In the pilot’s defence, in Taiwan, picking up local treats to share with your coworkers is a gesture widely expected of anyone who leaves town on a trip.
Mochi is a popular souvenir among visitors to Hualien, and the pilot’s selection was excellent: the two boxes were from Tzen Chi Mochi, which has earned a positive reputation for gourmet mochi.
Others have defended the pilot by pointing out that those in other countries, including the Japan Air Self-Defence Force, are permitted to carry personal effects into the cockpit.
A former AT-3 pilot even said that it was never a big deal for his colleagues to pick up some of Hsinchu’s famous rice noodles when they were in the city and to take them back by stowing them in the jet.