By Airman 1st Class Ryan Callaghan
23d Wing Public Affairs
I showed up at the 71st Rescue Squadron expecting to tag along on a training flight in an HC-130P Combat King: some Airmen were going to be jumping out of the plane, and I was going to take pictures. Airmen were huddled around the operations desk, but the vibe was different today. I could tell something was amiss. There was a visible tension in the air; it reflected on the faces of the pilots and aircrew scrambling to gather details from someone on the other end of a phone.
A seasoned F-15 pilot was on a solo flight to receive a radar upgrade when the pilot communicated an in-flight emergency. A mere 25 minutes later it was confirmed the aircraft had crashed into the remote Deerfield Valley in Virginia.
I had heard about the accident the day before, and I knew there would be a rescue effort, but hadn’t connected the dots. Now it seemed certain, the hubbub was the planning stages of a search and rescue mission.