Navy instructor pilots and their students teamed up with the Coast Guard to rescue the pilot of a small civilian plane that crashed in a bay near Rockport, Texas on Monday.
Lt. Bradley Williams and Ensign Kyle Brazas were on a routine training flight in a T-6B Texan II, en route to Mustang Beach Airport, when Corpus Christi Air Traffic Control contacted them about 7:55 a.m. to help locate the downed aircraft. civilian aircraft, according to the Navy.
While Williams and Brazas were flying north from a nearby airport in Rockport, Lt. Kitti Kopar and Navy Second Lieutenant Daniel Cerezo were flying south from the airport as they launched the search. At about 1,000 feet above ground level, Williams observed the aircraft about two miles from the Copano Bay airport, then descended to 500 feet above sea level to begin orbiting around from the accident site.
Williams saw the pilot standing on the wings of the crashed plane and asked Kopar to notify air traffic control, according to the Navy. Two civilian boats responded to provide assistance to the pilot, and a Coast Guard MH-65 Dolphin helicopter arrived on scene to evacuate the civilian pilot before returning to Corpus Christi International Airport.
“As an Airman, I feel it is my duty to assist my fellow pilots in any way possible when needed,” Williams said, according to a Navy press release. “I’m glad we were able to help the crew and they were quickly pulled out of the water. I am grateful for my training during my time in the United States Navy as a search and rescue maritime patrol aircraft commander. It was through this training and practicing this scenario over and over that I knew exactly what to do.
The naval aviators were assigned to the “Rangers” of Training Squadron 28, based out of Naval Air Station Corpus Christi.
“We are grateful for a positive outcome in this case,” said Cmdr. Dawn Prebula, head of the Coast Guard Sector’s Corpus Christi Response Department, said in a Navy news release. “The Coast Guard quickly launched a helicopter and a small boat once we received the report of a downed plane, but also had the assistance of many partners. A Good Samaritan was on scene within minutes and was able to determine that the pilot was fine and transport him to emergency medical services for a full evaluation.