By Maj. James Pearce, 314th Airlift Wing
/ Published February 02, 2018
Photo taken by JODY 40 Aircrews as they found the downed Aircraft Jan. 11, 2018 near Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark.
C-130 aircrews are no strangers to providing assistance
to those on the ground. Normally that
takes the form of delivering critical supplies to a remote outpost or putting
combat-rigged airborne troops safely on a drop zone. However, on a recent 62d Airlift Squadron
student training mission our formation was able to unexpectedly lend a hand to
local first responders.
JODY 40, my two aircraft formation, was on a flight for a
simulated airdrop at Blackjack Drop Zone when we received a traffic call from
Little Rock Approach about an aircraft, altitude unknown, along our flight path. The crew held checklists and began scanning
for the traffic, and quickly spotted a white, single-engine Cessna which
eventually passed directly beneath us at a fairly low altitude. Moments later, we heard the pilot of the
Cessna state that he was having a malfunction and was going to have to land in
a field. That got our attention.
My crew marked the location of where we had seen the
Cessna and continued the run-in while monitoring Little Rock Approach
frequency. We listened as a private
pilot in the area talked with the pilot of the downed aircraft and determined
he made a safe landing.
After we completed our simulated airdrop, we queried
Little Rock Approach if they needed us to find the downed aircraft because we
had a pretty good idea where he was and could get there quickly. They told us that another pilot was enroute
to assist and did not require our assistance.
We continued our training with a recovery and low
approach at Little Rock AFB, but when we switched back to Little Rock Approach
it was clear that the private pilot or Sheriff’s Department were unable to
locate the aircraft.
We queried them again offering our assistance; this time
they requested we fly to the downed Cessna and asked that we provide the
sheriff’s office the exact location.
We deviated from our flight plan and went directly to the
area where we marked his location; taking into account his direction of flight
and altitude we had a fairly good idea of where he would have landed. We also knew there were no other aircraft
from LRAFB in the area at that time so there were no conflicts with our flight
I flew the ground track set by Maj. Sterlin, my student
and co-pilot, and he immediately spotted the aircraft in a field.
As we setup a flight pattern at a safe altitude around the
aircraft, Little Rock Approach requested adjacent roads for the Sheriff's Department
instead of coordinates to better assist them. SSgt Tucciarone, our loadmaster,
was able to use his iPhone to pinpoint the location and precise driving
directions to the aircraft which were passed to Little Rock Approach.
After partnering with response units on the ground, we
proceeded with the rest of the mission and continued our training.