US pilot thanks British man who guaranteed a happy landing
LONDON (AP) - U.S. Air Force Maj. Grant Thompson thanked a British photographer in the best way he knew - by ripping the plaster off his shoulder and handing it over to the man whose quick action last week made sure he did After an engine failure, his F-15E Strike Eagle safely lands.
Ian Simpson was standing in front of the fence of a Royal Air Force base in the east of England, taking pictures of fighter planes taking off, when he saw a shower of sparks from the tail of an aircraft. He and a group of flight enthusiasts who overheard the flight control traffic found that the pilot did not seem to know that there was a problem with the plane.
So Simpson, who used to work in the aviation industry, Googled the phone number of RAF Lakenheath and persuaded a operator to put him in flight operations at the base, home of the US Air Force's 48th Fighter Wing.
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“I said, 'Look, there's definitely something wrong with the plane. We have a lot of photos of sparks coming out the back, ”Simpson, 56, told The Associated Press.
The message was forwarded to the pilot. When asked to take a look, his wingman confirmed that one of the engines was damaged, the base said. The pilot returned to the base "just to be sure".
"For most of us here, this was a very rare event that we did not personally experience," said a statement from the air force base. "It's wonderful to know that the Liberty Wing has such a great partnership with the local community - and the courage Ian has shown has been second to none."
Simpson said he was motivated by the death of another young American pilot whose plane crashed in the North Sea on June 15, 2020.
"I thought someone should call," he said. "I didn't want something like this to happen to another family."
On Wednesday, Thompson thanked Simpson by handing Simpson a cap and badge and then throwing in the shoulder patch for safety.
"That was a nice touch," said Simpson.
The grassroots noted Simpson's actions in a Facebook post that received a lot of attention, particularly from Americans, who were grateful for his help.
"The most humiliating thing to me was the soldiers' families who thanked me for what I did," he said. "I didn't expect to get so much thanks."
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