Jet starters fail during William Tell event, pilot jumps out
and boards spare
The Pacific Air Forces
team put big points on the William Tell scoreboard after a
touch-and-go start in their first event November 9 at Tyndall Air
Force Base (FL).
The Operation Noble Eagle event simulates the launch of
quick-response fighters that must react to an enemy aircraft
crossing the border into the United States. The scenario requires
pilots and maintenance personnel to run to the jets, start them,
take off and intercept the enemy aircraft within a specific amount
of time -- in the dark.
When the horn sounded for the PACAF team at 0700, a pilot, a
crew chief and an assistant crew chief ran approximately 50 yards
to each of two F-15 Eagles from Elmendorf’s 19th Fighter
Squadron. The pilots climbed into the jets to start them while the
maintainers briefly inspected the aircraft exteriors.
Within a minute, one jet’s engines were starting with a
roar. The other jet’s engines were eerily quiet. Onlookers
gasped as the pilot climbed back out of the F-15’s
“When I got to the jet, the jet fuel starter
failed,” said Capt. Travis Hazeltine, wingman for
PACAF’s William Tell team. “I tried the second one, and
it didn’t work, either. I grabbed my gear and ran to the next
A spare jet had been prepared for the flight by another pilot,
just in case one of the first two malfunctioned -- just like in a
real-world alert situation, said Captain Hazeltine. As the clock
ticked closer to the five-minute time limit, the spare jet’s
crew chief, Staff Sgt. Eric Bradley, and assistant crew chief,
Tech. Sgt. Timothy Castro, raced to get their pre-launch
inspections done while Captain Hazeltine fired up the engines.
“What we have to do in the cockpit is quick and simple, so
the launch time really depends on how quickly and safely the
maintainers can do their part of it,” said Captain
Sergeants Bradley and
Castro had the spare jet rolling out in five minutes and 20
seconds, which included the time it took for the pilot to try the
first jet. That time was only 20 seconds over the time limit for
using a single jet and is excellent for using a spare, according to
Capt. Pete Fesler, the instructor pilot on the PACAF team.
“Those guys did awesome,” said Staff Sgt.
Christopher Roscoe, PACAF engines specialist. “That’s
how it’s supposed to go.”
It was all in a day’s work for Captain Hazeltine, Sergeant
Bradley and Sergeant Castro. “It didn’t shake
me,” said Captain Hazeltine. “The rest of the mission
was perfect.” “We’ll get the job done,”
said Sergeant Bradley. “We’re like the anchor leg of a
And what a relay it was. PACAF’s score for the Operation
Noble Eagle event was only 60 points away from perfect. Twenty
points were deducted for going to the spare jet and being 20
seconds over the time limit. Twenty-five points were deducted in
the weapons director category for extraneous communications.
Fifteen points were deducted from the maintenance score for a
foreign object found near one of the jets.
With a total score of 4,690 out of a possible 4,750, the PACAF
team demonstrated that a problem is only a problem if it
isn’t dealt with correctly.
(Our thanks to 1st Lt. Amy Hansen, 3rd Wing Public Affairs
for a great story!)