Health & Safety

May 16, 2014

Pilot aids downed colleague after mid-air collision

Tags:
Senior Airman Siuta B. Ika
99th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

Capt. Gregory Farrell, 422nd Test and Evaluation Squadron F-16 Fighting Falcon operational test instructor pilot, poses for a photo at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., May 13. Farrell was recently awarded the Aviation Safety Well Done Award for responding to a mid-air collision while he was flying a training mission over the Atlantic Ocean in August 2013.

NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. — As part of the 422nd Test and Evaluation Squadron here, Capt. Gregory Farrell is responsible for testing new hardware, software and munitions in an operational environment before the equipment can be accepted into the Air Force inventory.

However, back in August 2013, Farrell, an F-16 Fighting Falcon operational test instructor pilot, was responsible for something every Airman is charged with upon entering the service – being a wingman.

“I was [on temporary duty] and flying over the Atlantic Ocean during a training mission when I heard over the radio that two aircraft had been in a mid-air collision,” Farrell said. “When I heard that I just pointed my nose in the direction of the collision and headed towards their location.”

After arriving on scene, Farrell assessed one of the aircraft had sustained heavy damage, while the other aircraft’s pilot had ejected into the ocean below. Farrell knew his search for the downed pilot was going to be complicated because of the moonless and overcast night, and because his aircraft wasn’t equipped for a search and rescue operation.

“So, I’m basically looking outside with my night-vision goggles trying to find him and I sent my wingman up high to get radio relay and coordinate with the base to get the search and rescue guys out there,” Farrell said. “After about 15 to 30 minutes of not being able to find him in the water and not coming up on the radio, I definitely started to fear the worst – that he wasn’t actually alive down there.”

Finally, the radio silence broke as the downed pilot called out to Farrell.

“That radio call was the best I’ve ever heard,” Farrell said. “What happened to him was he had dislocated both of his knees – tore eight ligaments in his knees when he hit the water – so it took him a while to get into his life raft. Being so dark out it took him a while to find his radio, and I’m sure the amount of pain that he was in, which I never knew because talking to him on the radio, he sounded like he was just normal down there.”

Once he got the downed pilot on the radio, Farrell was able to generate precise coordinates on the pilot’s location to pass on to the U.S. Coast Guard’s search and rescue team, which extracted the pilot one hour after his ejection and just 30 minutes after the pilot made contact with Farrell.

“It was definitely one of the scariest flights I’ve been on but it was also one of the most rewarding too,” Farrell said. “I actually saw [the downed pilot], he was actually out here in Vegas for a Wounded Warriors conference back in November. He had undergone four surgeries, he had total tendon replacements, and he was walking around in what he referred to as his ‘Forrest Gump legs’ at the time, but he’s expected to make a full recovery and hopefully will be flying the Viper again here shortly.”

Farrell was recently awarded the Aviation Safety Well Done Award and according to the award citation, he “displayed outstanding airmanship,” and his “extraordinary skill, ingenuity and proficiency reflect great credit upon himself, Air Combat Command and the United States Air Force.”

Despite receiving the prestigious award, Farrell gained so much more from the whole experience.

“I think any other pilot in my situation would’ve been able to do the same thing because we’re trained from day one on how to deal with a situation like this,” he said. “When I was at that Wounded Warriors conference with him, I met his girlfriend and she just came up to me, gave me a hug and said thank you. That was more of a reward right there than you could ever ask for.”




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 
U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Charles Larkin Sr.

First sergeant provides health, welfare for warriors

U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Charles Larkin Sr. Master Sgt. Phelipe Salinas speaks to his athletes during the 2014 Warrior Games at the Garry Berry Stadium in Colorado Springs, Colo., Oct. 2. Salinas is the first sergean...
 
 

Safeguarding, re-evaluating your digital footprint

SAN ANTONIO, Texas — Social media is a great resource for Airmen and their families to share information and stay connected to relatives at home and abroad. Although many depend on these wonderful tools, recent events have encouraged us to re-evaluate our digital footprint to ensure our personal and professional information is protected from online...
 
 

October is Energy Action Month: ‘I am Air Force Energy’

NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. — Summer has come to a close, and we’re all looking forward to more tolerable temperatures in the coming weeks. Even better news — this means your power bill is likely to go down. But if you think you pay a lot for energy, imagine paying Nellis’ bill of approximately $1 million...
 

 

Taming ‘tyranny of urgent’

VANCE AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. — Many Airmen lead incredibly busy lives, full of unfinished tasks that we often wish we had more hours in the day to fit it all in, and in our professional lives, budgets remain tight, the Air Force is shrinking, and we are challenged to do more with less. Yet...
 
 
U.S. Air Force photograph by Airman 1st Class Rachel Loftis

Armory: A home for weapons

U.S. Air Force photograph by Airman 1st Class Rachel Loftis Senior Airman Jaime Romo, 99th Security Forces Squadron armorer, puts a M-240 rifle away after clearing the weapon at the 99th SFS armory at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev...
 
 
U.S. Air Force photo

Nellis Open House brings history to life

U.S. Air Force photo The AT-6 Texan, which was originally flown in 1935 and flown here in the 1940s, will be one of many aircraft at the Nellis Air Force Base Open House on Nov. 8 and 9. It is a single-engine advanced trainer a...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>


Directory powered by Business Directory Plugin