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NEWS | Oct. 2, 2012

West Virginia Air Guard crew honored for saving plane after bird strike

By Master Sgt. Matthew Hilborn Air National Guard Readiness Center Public Affairs

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. - Quick thinking and exemplary teamwork allowed an aircrew from the 167th Airlift Wing to land safely after their Air Force C-5 Galaxy aircraft sustained severe damage to its engines as a result of multiple bird strikes during takeoff.

The West Virginia Air National Guard members received the Earl T. Ricks Award during the 2013 Air Force Association's Air and Space Conference and Technology Exposition here Sept. 16. The award recognizes Air National Guard personnel for outstanding airmanship.

Those honored were Air Force Lt. Col. Jonathan Goldstein, Capt. Ryan Hawk, 1st Lt. Samuel Harrison, Senior Master Sgt. Timothy Nicholson, Master Sgt. Michael Kalbfleisch, Master Sgt. Devin Paskewich, Tech. Sgt. Nicholas McFadden, Staff Sgt. Chad Witmer, Staff Sgt. Jordan Soltis and Senior Airman Jeremy Barr.

"Both the unit and other training really prepare you for these types of emergencies," said Master Sgt. Micheal Kalbfleisch, a 167th flight engineer who was part of the aircrew. "In fact, there is a simulation training scenario that we do once a year where you lose two of your engines and have to handle the situation."

The fully loaded aircraft departed April 19 from Navy Station Rota, Spain, en route to an Air Base in the Middle East in support of Operation Enduring Freedom when the incident occurred. The crew assessed the damage and was able take the appropriate actions saving themselves and the plane.

Col. Shaun Perkowski, the 167th Air Wing vice commander, said the unit is proud of the Airmen and how they handled themselves under duress.

"The way they worked together to safely land their crippled airplane was simply outstanding," Perkowski said. "It took great technical skill and knowledge, awesome leadership and a crew working together at their best."