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    Bomber crew earns AFGSC General Curtis E. LeMay award

    Bomber crew earns AFGSC General Curtis E. LeMay award

    Photo By Airman 1st Class Rhea Beil | Capt. Charles Powell, 11th Bomb Squadron director of staff, Lt. Col. John Conway, Air...... read more read more



    Story by Airman 1st Class Laiken King 

    2nd Bomb Wing

    BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La.— A B-52H Stratofortress bomber crew recently earned the Air Force Global Strike Command General Curtis E. LeMay award for the outstanding bomber crew category during the 2023 AFGSC Operations Awards.

    On December 13, 2022, the Scout 94 crew faced a life-threatening situation while flying a B-52 from Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, to Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana. The three aircrew members on board were Capt. Charles Powell, 11th Bomb Squadron aircraft commander, now the Director of Staff, Lt. Col. John Conway, 11th Bomb Squadron radar navigator, now Air Combat Command Training Support Squadron Detachment 13 commander, and Capt. Matthew Walls, 343 Bomb Squadron copilot, now unit deployment manager.

    While avoiding severe thunderstorms and descending in altitude in preparation to land, two of the aircraft’s electrical generators tripped off. According to Powell, the aircraft suddenly went into an uncontrolled left roll, descending rapidly and decelerating below normal approach speed.

    “The emergency was sudden and caused brief but extreme disorientation to myself and the other crew members,” said Walls. “All the systems kicked off at once, and the aircraft went completely dark, engines flamed out, and controlling the aircraft became a battle.”

    The crew immediately began working to troubleshoot and correct the situation.

    “As we began to lose altitude, I could hear Captain Powell call to restart the engines and he informed me that we had lost 4 engines on one side,” said Conway.

    Approximately three minutes into the emergency, Powell successfully restarted engines three and four, alleviating some of the asymmetrical load on the aircraft. The crew declared an emergency with air traffic control and orchestrated a non-standard right turn, steering clear of the bad weather as they navigated towards a safe landing.

    “I was very fortunate to have a crew who handled their responsibilities so I could focus on the one thing that mattered in the moment– fly the jet,” said Powell.

    Despite the gravity of the situation, the crew said they remained calm. The crew exchanged altitude for airspeed, regaining control just as the aircraft approached a low altitude of 1,200 feet above ground level. Considering the populated area of Bossier City, Louisiana, directly beneath them, the stakes were high.

    “I believe that the reason Captain Powell was able to recover the aircraft safely is because he has trained to a six-engine approach many times and holds himself to a high standard when he trains,” said Conway. “This allowed him to instinctively fan the throttles and not make a bad situation worse by creating more of an asymmetric situation than we had.”

    Approaching runway 15, the crew said they managed a six-engine landing despite the challenges they faced. The crew's airmanship directly contributed to the successful recovery of the $84 million aircraft and the safety of its three-person crew, sparing the metropolitan area from potential catastrophe.

    “Capt. Powell and Capt. Walls both performed admirably and with immense poise that day,” said Conway. “They were quick to respond to the situation, run the appropriate procedures, and fall back on their training.”

    The Scout 94 crew overcame multiple catastrophic failures to safely land the aircraft, averting potential disaster in the air and on the ground.

    “I'm very proud of how we handled the situation,” said Walls. “It was fast and intense, and there wasn't time for discussion, just action. In my opinion, everyone fell into their role and did what was required.”



    Date Taken: 06.06.2024
    Date Posted: 06.06.2024 12:12
    Story ID: 473248

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