Today’s post is going to be somewhat short, because Bill and I have some plans for today and we need to get a somewhat early start. So instead of going off on a coffee fueled sermon, today I’m going to write about an article I found puzzling on several levels.
Now, some readers know that I lived in South Carolina for about three years, and I am a graduate of its flagship state university, The University of South Carolina. Er… that’s where I went to graduate school, anyway. I am pretty familiar with the culture in the southeastern United States. I still had to chuckle this morning when I read about how a family found a pilot in their backyard.
The incident happened last Sunday. The pilot was flying a F-35B Lightning II fighter jet , which belonged to training squadron of the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing. It had taken off from Joint Base Charleston on Sunday afternoon and was doing a routine training exercise, along with another plane.
For some reason, the pilot ejected, and the aircraft, which is reportedly one of the most advanced fighter jets in the world and has a price tag to match, was left to crash on its own. The pilot landed somewhat safely in a backyard, while the jet was found in Williamsburg County, about 60 miles northeast of where the pilot landed. Because of its status as a very advanced fighter jet, the whole area where the plane crashed is going to have to be cordoned off and scoured, because that plane has a lot of classified information onboard that will have to be stowed somewhere safe (that is, not in Trump’s bathroom at Mar-a-Lago).
I’m certainly not going to judge the pilot for ejecting. He’s 47 years old, and presumably has a whole lot of experience flying jets. I do think that unless he has an extremely good explanation for ejecting, his career is probably over. But as yet, I don’t know why he bailed on the very advanced stealth fighter jet– a former part of one of the Department of Defense’s most expensive programs, costing taxpayers $1.7 trillion over its lifespan. I’m going to assume he had a very good reason that involved saving his own life. The article I linked did mention that the F-35s, for all of their gadgetry and aeronautic wizardry, seem to break down frequently. That might be what happened in this case. The pilot had mentioned there was a “aircraft failure”. I’m just glad the aircraft crashed in a wooded area where there, apparently, weren’t any people on the ground.
What prompts me to write about this today is the way the residents of the home where the pilot landed called 911. It cracked me up. The caller said:
“I guess we’ve got a pilot in our house, and he says he got ejected.”
First off, this is a pretty bizarre thing to happen. So I can understand why the caller was hesitant to state for sure that they had a pilot at their house who had ejected. I’m sure the person was shocked. The 911 operator was also surprised and responded thusly:
“I’m sorry — what happened?”
But then came the very polite and hopeful request for the ambulance…
“We’ve got a pilot in the house, and I guess he landed in my backyard, and we’re trying to see if we could get an ambulance to the house, please,”
You guess he landed there? Is it possible he landed in someone else’s backyard and came to your house to bug you specifically? And now you’re “trying” to see if you “could” get an ambulance? It seems like such a very polite request after such a weird occurrence!
I’m kidding, of course. These folks were, no doubt, completely dumbfounded that this happened to them. It’s kind of like when you play The Sims, look up into the sky, and suddenly get killed by a falling satellite. It just isn’t something that happens to the vast majority of people. Life is strange. I get that. I still couldn’t help but crack up at the very courtly and civilized request for an ambulance.
The pilot then gets on the phone and explains:
“We have a military jet crash. I’m the pilot. We need to get rescue rolling. I’m not sure where the airplane is,” the pilot tells the dispatcher. “It would have crash-landed somewhere. I ejected.”
The pilot also said he had some back pain (I can imagine) and needed to be checked out by a doctor… naturally! So he went to the hospital and stayed overnight.
Now see, I read this and shake my head in wonder. The pilot fell about 2000 feet, parachuting into a stranger’s backyard, and still offered a response to 911 that seems much more rational and normal than his very polite surprise hosts did. If it were me, I think I would have been very surprised and animated. There might have even been some gratuitous profanity.
I can only wonder what the residents said as the pilot departed their home. Perhaps they invited him to drop in again sometime? Only next time, I hope he arrives at their house by land!
Hopefully, the pilot is okay in all ways and his career survives the impact of this crash landing… He certainly kept his wits about him. As for the people who called 911, I wish them well, too. Hopefully, there wasn’t any damage done to their yard when the pilot dropped in on their Sunday. The 911 dispatcher now has a call they can forever share with friends and family. Other than the plane crash costing taxpayers millions and generating work for the military, this story has a pretty happy ending. That’s always a good thing.
Well, I guess I’ll end today’s post and get dressed. We’ve got somewhere to go and something to do… (for once). Hopefully, no ambulances will be involved.