Airman Down

Rescue aircraft are different today, but “surrender” is still a dirty word.

Over Vietnam in 1966, a Douglas A-1 flies cover on a rescue mission. (USAF)
Air & Space Magazine

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“Just like the A-1 guys, there’s a mentality in the A-10 community that we’re gonna do this job and we’re gonna be good at it,” says Kanning. In a subdued tone, Baker underscores the factors inherent in accomplishing that: “Are you going to be able to get this guy back in one piece? Are you going to lose more people trying to get him back? It’s very difficult. It’s not something you jump up and down about doing if you have to go do it for real.”  

Would Sandy pilots consider scrubbing a precarious rescue and instead advise a downed airman to surrender? Their reply: Never. 

Frequent contributor Stephen Joiner writes about aviation from his home in southern California.

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