An air traffic controller working in the tower at Kirtland Air Force Base/Albuquerque International Sunport is credited with saving the lives of six U.S. Air Force CV-22 Osprey aircrew members assigned here and a $90 million aircraft.
Wendy Smith received a coin Jan. 8, 2021, from the 71st Special Operations Squadron commander, Lt. Col. Brett Cassidy, for her actions on Nov. 10, 2020.
The 71st SOS commander said that on that flight, the CV-22 students were in the end phase of their training, with their focus on operating under low-light conditions, using night-vision gear, and doing full “brownout” landings, where they don’t have any visibility of the landing zone.
“It’s a pretty complex mission set, so most folks aren’t really thinking about issues on departure out of here,” he said.
Smith, whose parents are both retired air traffic controllers and whose husband is a controller at Albuquerque approach control, was working in the tower that night, and saw something amiss with the aircraft.
“It requires experience to know that something’s wrong. She’s been up there for 12 years – that’s almost the entire lifespan of the Osprey aircraft. She’s probably one of the few people here with the experience to recognize that something’s just not quite right,” Cassidy said.
Cassidy described the events and their aftermath.
“They were taking off on a night tactical sortie. On climb-out, the air traffic controller called the aircraft commander on the radio – ‘Hey Dusty 73, your right prop-rotor looks weird,’ she said. The crew looked out the window, and usually the three prop-rotor tip lights are in a perfect line, showing that everything is in sync, but they could see that one of the blades was not. That was enough. They came back in, landed, got a new aircraft and went back out. The maintenance team downloaded the information, and that blade was vibrating three times its limit. They did some inspections, and found a pitch link bearing that controls the blade pitch was falling apart. It had probably another 45 minutes to an hour left of life at the rate it was breaking down. If the aircraft had continued not to report, and the aircrew hadn’t noticed the vibrations, it would’ve been a catastrophic failure. That would’ve been a loss of the aircraft and crew.”
After being impounded for inspection and maintenance, the CV-22 aircraft involved was repaired and rejoined the 71st SOS fleet for student training.
- New US East Coast scheduled helicopter flights to launch in June
- US Army tests UH-60 Load Stability System Litter Attachment from Vita Inclinata
- Raytheon awarded $15M more on CV-22 countermeasures contract
- Veelo Technologies Helping to Keep Aircraft Rotor Blades Out of the Oven
- Avfuel Adds Webinar and Human Factors Course to Training System
- EHang provides details of sales contracts to refute Wolfpack allegations
- Bristow closes $400M Notes offering and pays off term loans
- Whirly-Girls International release 2021 Scholarship Recipients
- SAFE wins contract for US Army UH-60 work platforms
- TKK Orders 2nd EC135 FTD from FRASCA
- Schiebel first UAS Operator in Europe to receive LUC from Austro Control
- Cornwall Air Ambulance now carries blood products
- EHang 216 AAV completes first trial flights in Beijing airspace
- Emergency Services affected by Facebook Australia news ban
- Second group of Botswana police pilots training on Enstrom 480B
- Mauritius signs helicopter lease with India
- London’s Air Ambulance extends maintenance contract with SAS
- Bell Delivers Three Huey IIs to the Lebanese Air Force
- HAL Hands Over ALHs to the Indian Navy and Indian Coast Guard
- HAL’s LUH Receives IOC