The Air Force intends to award medals to an aircrew for saving themselves and their B-1B Lancer bomber in a fiery emergency landing in May, recognizing their coolness under pressure during a “tense and highly critical situation” that was any commander's worst nightmare, service officials confirmed today.
- Gen. Robin Rand, the commander of Air Force Global Strike Command, will award medals to the Lancer aircrew on Friday, according to a July 10 email that appeared on the unofficial Air Force amn/nco/snco page on Wednesday. Dyess spokesman 2nd Lt. Kali Gradishar told Task & Purpose that the nature of those awards will not be disclosed until the day of the ceremony itself.
- The aircrew was forced to make an emergency landing at Midland International Air Space Port in Texas on May 1st after an indicator light alerted them to a fire aboard the long-range strategic bomber, and the weapons systems officer’s seat failed to release during the subsequent ejection sequence.
- “The cover comes off, and nothing else happens. The seat doesn’t fire,” Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson confirmed in June, referring to the ejection hatch. “Within two seconds of knowing that that had happened, the aircraft commander says, 'Cease ejection, we'll try to land.'”
- The horrifying incident induced the Air Force to ground its B-1B fleet for a two-week safety stand-down. On June 19, AFGSC announced that flight operations had resumed, stating that the command had “high confidence that the fleet’s egress systems are capable and the fleet is ready to return to normal flight operations.”
The exact citations that the crewmembers will receive will remain part of their own personal records and will not be made public by the Air Force, Gradishar said, adding that service plans on releasing additional details of the incident following the July 13th medal ceremony.