Minot Airmen Help Pilot in Winter Storm - KMOT.COM - Minot, ND - News, Weather, Sports

Minot Airmen Help Pilot in Winter Storm

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A seven-man B52 crew arrived back at Minot Air Force Base from what was supposed to be a routine training exercise.  But, a bad winter storm hit Alaska, forcing the airmen to help a fellow pilot in the midst of the storm.

The airmen were halfway through with their classified mission when something unexpected happened.

"We received a call from the [Anchorage] Air Traffic Control, and they informed us they had a light aircraft that was in distress, and they were unsure of its location. And they asked us if we could possibly go to that area and investigate," says radar navigator Captain Keenan Boes.

The B52 was the only aircraft in the area able to assist the pilot.

"They didn't really have much detail," says co-pilot First Lieutenant Justin Frost. "They had a general location, we're talking like a 15 mile circle of where he might be."

After checking to make sure they had enough fuel to divert from their original flight course, the Minot airmen began searching the area for the pilot.

"We ended up establishing radio communication with them about 200 miles off our plane course," says Boes.

With the radio communication between the pilot and the air traffic control, the Minot airmen were able to pinpoint the pilot's exact location and help him navigate safely to the Calhoun Memorial Airport in Tanana, Alaska.

"Once we did get down on the ground safely, he called us back and thanked us. And, you could definitely tell the difference in his voice from when he was trying to land, and when he was safely on the ground," says Capt. Boes.

Crew members aboard the aircraft say it's an experience they'll never forget.

"It's maybe a once in a lifetime opportunity to be in the right place at the right time and to have the right skill set to possibly make sure this pilot in distress makes it home alive," says Boes.

"We do a lot of training and it's really good to have a real-world impact where we really help somebody out.  It's a great feeling," says Lt. Frost.

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