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Laughlin AFB Pilot Relays Coordinates Of Civilian Pilot In Distress

Helped Air Traffic Controllers Keep Track Of Airplane Having Engine Problems

During a two-aircraft formation flight Dec. 5, a T-6A Texan II instructor pilot with the 85th Flying Training Squadron at Laughlin AFB in TX demonstrated poise and composure when faced with a situation he had yet to come across in his career.

Air Force Capt. James Kareis was flying back from Fort Worth Alliance Airport when he heard distress calls from an aircraft experiencing engine malfunctions. “I turned my radio to an emergency frequency used by civilian aircraft to hear the transmissions better,” Kareis said.

The distress calls came from call sign 2252 Juliet who explained his situation to Kareis. His engine was failing and he was looking to land in a nearby field. While in contact with the aircraft, Kareis a Pittsburgh, PA, native, maintained constant communication with air traffic controllers in Houston who were in touch with the distressed aircraft before losing communication. “I was constantly letting the gentleman know we were here, and we were going to help anyway we could with the situation,” Kareis said. “He updated me with his coordinates frequently and I passed them directly to Houston so they always had an idea where he was.”

After 20 minutes of communicating back-and-forth, the distressed aircraft’s engine failed, but the pilot managed to land safely in a field unscathed. "Two-two-five-two Juliet radioed to let us know what had happened and gave his coordinates to pass along to Houston,” Kareis said.

Kareis, a graduate of Embry Riddle Aeronautical University, passed along the final coordinates so emergency personnel could respond to the downed aircraft as soon as possible. “Fortunately for this gentleman we just so happened to be in the right place at the right time,” he said. “I guess you could say preparation met opportunity in this case.”

While the entire ordeal lasted less than 30 minutes, the scenario was unlike any other he had faced to this point.“We brief about scenarios like this before every flight but it is very uncommon for it to happen like it did,” Kareis said. “I am just glad everything happened the way it did, and he was able to have peace of mind knowing we were there to help him.”

(Pictured: Air Force Capt. James Kareis, 85th Flying Training Squadron instructor pilot, poses for a picture in front of a T-6A Texan II aircraft at Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas. U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Scott Saldukas)

FMI: www.af.mil

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