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Heroic Pilots

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Heroic Pilots

Heroic Pilots

By John Parks


The recent events of US Airways Flight 1549 have brought renewed interest to heroic pilots and their exploits. No one can doubt the courage of pilot Chesley B. "Sully" Sullenberger III, who managed to bring the crippled craft down with no fatalities despite having no engine power. His heroism has sparked an interest in heroic pilots of previous years, both military and civilian, who went above and beyond the call of duty to save lives. These men and women have shown exceptional skill and dedication to their duty, and as such will go down as heroes forever.

Senior first officer John Coward became "A Hero Named Coward" in January of 2008 when the Boeing 777 he and his was attempting to fly suddenly suffered a severe engine failure. An electrical fire incapacitated the aircraft, and yet he was able to crash-land the aircraft two miles from Heathrow international airport where it had just taken off without a single fatality. He did so by bringing the plane in as gradually and carefully as he could, using the flaps to bleed off speed. By keeping his cool and bringing the plane in slowly, he enabled everyone to escape from the crash alive.

Another heroic pilot is Nelson Bahamondes, who was piloting a Cessna 208 in the Andes Mountains. His aircraft was forced to crash-land in the heavily forested, below-freezing regions of the upper Andes, and he was critically injured in the crash. Despite this, none of the other passengers were injured, and he managed to stay alive for four days, teaching them necessary survival skills even as he slowly succumbed to his fatal injuries and the terrible cold. He showed them what local plants could be eaten, and also how they could siphon fuel from the damaged aircraft and burn it for heat. In the end, he died, however all of his passengers survived with nothing but minor injuries.

Richard Bateman has also been renowned for his heroism, despite the fact that he has largely remained too humble to acknowledge it. The New Zealand native was training a student to fly in a mountainous region when his craft went down, and despite suffering several broken ribs and a severe head wound he was still able to retrieve his emergency gear from the crashed plane and, amazingly, pull out his student, who was trapped in the twisted wreckage. He managed to keep both himself and his student alive for several hours as they limped to a nearby muster station where they called for help.

Flt Lt Michelle Goodman is also renowned for her heroism, and her actions made her the first woman pilot to win the RAF's top medal for bravery. Serving as the pilot of an emergency helicopter rescue craft in Basra, she successfully navigated her Merlin helicopter through enemy fire to rescue a wounded rifleman, who was quickly bleeding to death on the battlefield. The fighting was so heavy, and the flight so dangerous, that she was in fact not ordered to conduct the rescue and instead did so of her own accord.

For more information on heroic pilots, visit [http://www.relatedarticles.net/bl-us_airways.cfm]


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John Parks

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