Not all heroes wear capes. Sometimes they wear caps and take pictures. That’s exactly what happens when a photographer spotted something unusual with an F-15. People who speak out if they think something is wrong, are exactly the kind of people that you want in your group. These people are often the ones who end up saving lives. Ian Simpson did the same and it led to him saving the life of a US Air Force pilot. So remember, speaking out about something you think is wrong might just help someone.
A photographer and an avid aviation enthusiast, Ian Simpson, who usually parks outside the United States Air Force base in Suffolk spotted something weird with one of the F-15E Strike Eagles that was taking off. The pilot in the cockpit was Maj. Grant Thompson and now owes his life to a stranger who saw the right thing at the right time and did something about it. Ian spotted something was wrong with one of the planes so he called RAF Lakenheath.
Ian told them that he had spotted flames and sparks protruding from the aircraft while it was taking off. Simpson told reporters that he made the call because he thought that the sparks were shocking. He said that “It was quite shocking really. You do see flames called an afterburner, which they use to take off. But that is normally turned off as soon as they leave the runway”. Seeing those weird flames made him very concerned and this concern led him to call the switchboard which directed him to flight control.
Thankfully flight control took him seriously and immediately alerted the pilot, ultimately saving his life. So much so that the pilot himself said that “His initiative was awesome” and it “100%” saved his life. The pilot also said that were it not for Simpson’s call, he would have never noticed anything was wrong. The pilot explained that from their perspective, the take-off was completely normal so Ian literally saved him from a very sticky situation. Upon being told that a civilian had spotted something wrong with the aircraft, the pilot immediately figured out what it could be.
Thompson guessed that it could have been a life-threatening nozzle malfunction. He added that one of the team’s wingmen also noticed there was something wrong with the plane’s right engine. Thomspon then proceeded to bring the aircraft back to the ground safely. Thankfully no one has hurt. Thompson also personally thanked Ian for saving his life. The interaction was recorded and shared on RAF Lakenheath’s Facebook page.