An Air Force policy to eliminate older paper files related to noncombat missions led the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center at Tyndall AFB, Fla., to destroy “suspended mission files” for failed search and rescue missions from 1989 and earlier, reports the New York Times. The issue came to light when investigators trying to identify victims from three aircraft wrecks found during the search for Steve Fossett. According to the Civil Air Patrol, there have only been 18 unresolved aircraft searches out of hundreds over the last decade. The good news: An emergency management official in Nevada, where the wreckage was found, doubts the records would have provided much additional information.
The Air Force will begin its 71st annual Operation Christmas Drop on Dec. 4. The weeklong exercise is a yearly tradition that delivers supplies such as food, fishing equipment, school books, and clothes to remote islands in the Pacific. It is the longest-running Department of Defense humanitarian mission.