Navy instructor pilots and their students teamed up with the Coast Guard to rescue the pilot of small civilian plane who crashed into a bay near Rockport, Texas, Monday.
Lt. Bradley Williams and Ensign Kyle Brazas were conducting a routine training flight in a T-6B Texan II, en route to Mustang Beach Airport, when Corpus Christi air traffic control reached out to them at approximately 7:55 a.m. to help locate the downed civilian aircraft, according to the Navy.
While Williams and Brazas flew north of a nearby airport in Rockport, Lt. Kitti Kopar and Marine 2nd Lt. Daniel Cerezo flew to the south of the airport as they launched the search. From approximately 1,000 feet above ground level, Williams eyed the aircraft roughly two miles from the airport in Copano Bay, then descended to 500 feet above sea level to start orbiting the crash site.
Williams saw the pilot standing on the wings of the crashed aircraft and notified Kopar to inform air traffic control, according to the Navy. Two civilian boats stepped in to provide assistance to the pilot, and a Coast Guard MH-65 Dolphin helicopter arrived on the scene to evacuate the civilian pilot before heading back to Corpus Christi International Airport.
“As an aviator, I feel it’s my duty to assist my fellow pilots in any way possible during a time of need,” Williams said, according to a Navy news release. “I’m glad we were able to assist the crew and that they were quickly pulled out of the water. I’m thankful for my training during my time in the United States Navy as a Maritime Patrol Aircraft Commander in Search and Rescue. It was because of this training, and practicing this scenario multiple times, that I knew exactly what to do.”
The naval aviators were assigned to the “Rangers” of Training Squadron 28, based out of Naval Air Station Corpus Christi.
“We are grateful for a positive outcome in this case,” Cmdr. Dawn Prebula, head of the Coast Guard Sector Corpus Christi response department, said in a Navy news release. “The Coast Guard quickly launched a helicopter and small boat once we received the report of a downed aircraft, but also had the assistance of many partners. A good Samaritan was on scene within a few minutes and was able to determine the pilot was okay and to transport to emergency medical services for full evaluation.”