News: 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade aviator earns the Army Broken Wing award
Story by Capt. Beth Riordan
FORT BRAGG, N.C. - The Army Broken Wing award was presented to Chief Warrant Officer 2 Gene Tidwell, Troop B, 1st Squadron, 17th Cavalry Regiment, 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade maintenance test pilot, during a ceremony at the 82nd CAB, April 29.
The award recognizes an individual who demonstrates a high degree of professional skill while recovering from an in-flight failure or malfunction requiring an emergency landing.
“The Broken Wing award is one that every professional aviator would like to think he or she would earn if faced with an in-flight emergency, but it is the one award that no one wants to ever have the opportunity to earn,” Squadron Commander Lt. Col. Rick Zampelli said.
Tidwell earned the award as a result of his actions on March 24, 2011, when, despite engine failure, he turned his OH-58D Kiowa Warrior Helicopter into the wind and completed autorotation, landing the aircraft upright in a grass field. His actions preserved the crash-worthiness of the aircraft and ensured survival of the occupants.
A Kiowa pilot since 2007, Tidwell was conducting his first maintenance test flight following his February 2011 graduation from the OH-58D Kiowa Warrior Maintenance Test Pilot Course.
“When a new maintenance test pilot joins a unit, there is always an informal ‘breaking-in’ period to see if the new guy knows what he is doing,” said Tidwell. “I just hope I passed the test.”