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Aircrew safety: award of distinction.

During climb out in their B-52, following a maximum gross weight takeoff for an Operation ENDURING FREEDOM combat sortie, the pilots of Havoc 21 noticed the number four engine low oil pressure light was illuminated. The pilots quickly cross-checked the corresponding pressure gauge, found it to be low, and immediately shut down the engine using the Emergency Engine Shutdown checklist in accordance with Dash One procedures. With the engine successfully shut down and an aircraft that no longer met 'mission go' criteria, they notified the tanker crew of their situation, allowing the tanker to remain on the ground. The crew held in the vicinity of their Forward Operating Location (FOL) while running no less than 15 normal and emergency checklists associated with the loss of the number four engine. The crew was faced with problems including the loss of half their braking, steering loss on one forward gear, loss of normal left side landing gear extension and a 50 percent reduction in stabilizer trim rate. The situation was further complicated by the weight of the 12 retained GBU-31 Joint Defense Attack Munitions and the thousands of pounds of ballast fuel required to keep the aircraft center of gravity in the safe range for landing with weapons on board. The pilots computed landing data for the stricken heavyweight aircraft while burning fuel and keeping in mind their reduced braking action for the very real possibility of a wet runway landing at the isolated FOL. Meanwhile, the navigators kept a watchful eye on the weather and the electronic warfare officer coordinated with squadron supervision, the Supervisor of Flying, and the Duty Instructor Pilot. The crew remained ready to jettison the weapons if necessary to further reduce gross weight for the wet runway landing. Prior to landing, the aircraft commander turned on the number four hydraulic system standby pump and emergency extended the left aft gear. Now in a safe configuration and at a safe weight to land, the pilots executed a flawless approach and landing. The aircraft was towed clear and turned over to maintenance. The aircrew's skill in handling this complex, multifaceted emergency showcased their thorough knowledge of aircraft systems, exceptional crew resource management skills, and keen judgment. The crew's actions resulted in the safe recovery of a $74 million combat asset.


Capt Jeremiah Baldwin, Capt Gabe Cantu Capt Jeff O'Brien, 1Lt Gretchen Dues, Capt Steve Wilson

96th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron, 2nd Bomb Wing

Barksdale AFB, La.
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Author:Baldwin, Jeremiah; Cantu, Gabe; O'Brien, Jeff; Wilson, Steve
Publication:Combat Edge
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 1, 2006
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