Fri, May 07, 2004
F-16 Leads Civilian Aircraft Out Of Trouble
Usually, when a GA aircraft driver sees an F-16 off his wing, it
means trouble. Chances are, he's busted some last-minute TFR and
the F-16 means there's going to be a day of reckoning (at least
one) upon landing. But in the case of an anonymous C-172 pilot, the
Falcon was the most welcome sight he'd ever seen.
The Flint Journal reports the Cessna 172 was flying in IMC out
of Bishop Airport when it lost all but engine power. There were
three people on board -- a man, a woman and a child. The woman
grabbed her cell phone and called 911. The first time, she was
disconnected. The second time, she got in touch with Genesee County
dispatcher Danielle Prince.
The woman told Prince that the aircraft needed help getting
under the clouds. She contacted Bishop, which in turn, contacted
the 127th Fighter Wing of the Michigan Air National Guard.
The 127th had two F-16s in the air on a training mission when
they got the call on Saturday. Nancy Guy, spokeswoman for the
Michigan Air National Guard at Selfridge ANGB near Detroit, said
one of the Falcons closed to within visual range and was able to
"actually [get] eye contact with the Cessna. From there, the
fighter was able to lead the 172 to a break in the clouds, allowing
it to get underneath without further incident.
"I stayed on the line with the woman and Bishop in a three-way
call," said Prince. "We got to see them fly in right over us. It
felt awesome to get them on the ground safely."
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