Nellis Air Force pilot gets award for rescue

LAS VEGAS -- A Nellis Air Force pilot was recognized for actions in rescuing a downed pilot in the Atlantic Ocean last summer.

Captain Gregory Farrell's day began like most normal work days, but changed suddenly when two F-16's taking part in a routine training exercise were involved in a mid-air collision in the dark of the night. One pilot made it to safety, but the other, who was badly injured, ejected and dropped into the Atlantic Ocean.

Captain Farrel, who is an F-16 operational test instructor pilot, was trying to find the downed pilot and the darkness of the night didn't help.

"I was looking out my window with my night vision goggles, looking for him in the water," he said.

Farrell hoped the downed pilot would call out on his radio, but there was silence. His fuel started to get low and doubts about the pilot's survival creeped into his mind.

"I had a friend that was in a similar experience. He had been in a mid-air collision and unfortunately he didn't make it back," Farrel said.

After around 30 minutes, the injured airman called out.

"He's looking at me up in the sky and basically telling me where to turn and as I fly over him I can generate exact coordinates for that location," Farrell said.

He located the pilot and was able to guide the Coast Guard to him. For his actions, Farrell was awarded the Aviation Safety Well Done Award.

located the pilot and was able to tell the coast guard where he was.his actions earned him an aviation safety well done award... and he says what he learned that night is invaluable.

"I think that was kind of a big lesson for me is to never give up and continue pressing on because that radio call I heard from him, that first one, was probably the best radio call I've ever heard."

Captain Farrell was also able to direct the other F-16 involved in the crash back home, saving a multi-million dollar jet. He is currently preparing to become an instructor in the weapons school. His commander says only five percent of pilots get that honor because it's basically for the top guns of the Air Force.

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