DVIDS – News – Navy pilots assist civilian aircraft in distress


Two Navy Instructor Pilots (IPs) and two Naval Airman Students (SNAs) with the “Rangers” of Training Squadron (VT) 28 in Corpus Christi, Texas, responded to a stricken civilian aircraft overhead clouds and assisted the civilian pilot with navigation aids where he was able to descend and land safely at Mustang Beach Airport (KRAS), December 13.

At approximately 1:40 p.m., air traffic control at Corpus Christi International Airport (Corpus Approach) received a distress call from a private Piper Cherokee declaring an emergency that it was above cloud and unable to navigate through them to land safely. Air traffic control then contacted nearby pilots, who were conducting formation training in two T-6B Texan II trainers over Corpus Christi Bay, to see if they could get a visual on an open area for the Piper Cherokee to pass under the clouds.

The Navy pilots flying the two T-6Bs were Lt. Cmdr. David Indiveri of Succasunna, New Jersey; Navy 1st Lt. Casey Joehnk of Port Orchard, Wash.; Lt. Billy Morse of Tucson, Arizona; and Ensign Christophe Theodore of San Francisco. They quickly found a suitable area for an emergency descent under visual flight rules (VFR) and notified the Corpus approach. They were then instructed to proceed to the aircraft in distress and guide the pilot to the opening in the clouds about six miles north of Naval Air Station Corpus Christi. Once they established visual contact with the aircraft, they adjusted their speed and guided the pilot to the cloud opening, after which he was able to descend and land safely at KRAS.

“In the army, when someone asks for help, you are always ready,” Indiveri said. “There wasn’t a lot of thought going into it, we made a sound judgment and flew over the pitch and watched it land safely.”

Theodore is a student pilot who is only two flights away from completing his primary flight training.

“It was a pretty unique experience to help someone through elementary school,” Theodore said. “We come into naval aviation to help people, but it’s very exciting to do something that helps so early in our training. It’s very fulfilling.

“Although our primary role here is to train future naval aviators, in the event of an emergency our pilots stand ready to answer the call,” said Cmdr. Brian Higgins, commander of VT-28. “This is the second time in less than a month that our crews have responded to this call to help pilots in distress and potentially save the lives of our fellow civilian aviators who share this sky with us every day. I am extremely proud of Ranger flight crews and glad they were the ones who got the call as it is true to our Squadron motto, “Rangers Lead the Way”.

VT-28 pilots recently participated in the aid of another civilian pilot in distress. On Nov. 15, similar crews from VT-28 assisted a Coast Guard helicopter and a civilian vessel on a search and rescue mission helping to locate and rescue a civilian pilot after it crash-landed in the Copano Bay in Rockport, Texas.

VT-28 is one of two primary training squadrons attached to Training Air Wing Four in Corpus Christi, Texas, under the Chief of Naval Air Training (CNATRA). CNATRA, headquartered in Corpus Christi, trains the world’s best combat aviation professionals, delivering them at the right time, in sufficient numbers and at the right cost to a naval force that is where it counts, when it counts.

Date taken: 12.13.2021
Date posted: 14.12.2021 15:31
Story ID: 411111
Location: CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas, USA
Hometown: TUCSON, AZ, USA

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