Civilian Sees Worrying Sight as Fighter Jet Takes Off, Airmen Now Thanking Him for Speaking Up


A man is being recognized for helping to avert a crisis and the possible loss of life after he noticed something wrong with a U.S. Air Force jet.

According to The Drive’s War Zone, on July 13, Matt Smart, an aviation photographer, captured several shots of a F-15E Strike Eagle spewing sparks from its engine while taking off from Royal Air Force Lakenheath in Suffolk, England. RAF Lakenheath is the largest base in England that is operated by the U.S. Air Force, according to the base’s website.

“From what I heard the pilot reported no issues with handling etcetera and stayed out for a while; we were expecting him to return to base, but he didn’t. I understand that someone also phoned the base about it to make them aware,” Smart told The War Zone.

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That someone who notified the base is Ian Simpson, a plane spotter and aviation enthusiast, according to the BBC.

Simpson told the outlet that the planes do use an afterburner to take off, in which one can see flames emitted from the jet, but that is typically shut off immediately after the aircraft leaves the runway. The sight was shocking to see, he told the outlet.

The War Zone reported that the plane involved is a part of the 492nd Fighter Squadron, otherwise known as the “Madhatters,” which in turn is a part of the base’s 48th Fighter Wing.

Simpson told the BBC that he called RAF Lakenheath’s switchboard and was transferred to flight control, whom he told about what he saw. Flight control then notified the pilot.

The pilot, Maj. Grant Thompson, told the BBC that he did not know that there was any problem with the aircraft. Only after he was directed to contact the Air Force base was he told that a local civilian had spotted something wrong.

“From our perspective, it was a normal takeoff,” Thompson told the BBC.

After being informed of this, the pilot had one of his wingmen approach the jet, and the wingman noticed that there seemed to be an issue with the nozzles on the right engine, Thompson told the outlet. Upon being notified of this, the pilot brought the jet back to the base safely.

Not long ago, Thompson met with Simpson.

According to the BBC, the pilot thanked him for helping to avert a possible catastrophe. Thompson told the outlet that Simpson’s actions had “100 percent” saved his life and that “his initiative was awesome.”

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RAF Lakenheath’s Facebook page posted a video showing Thompson giving Simpson a hat and a couple of Air Force patches, including one he was wearing the day of the incident.

It is great to see an instance where one person’s actions can make such a huge impact on the life of someone else. Simpson’s quick thinking helped potentially save not only an expensive piece of military equipment but also a human life, as Thompson noted.

Through a hobby he enjoys, Simpson was able to quickly observe a problem, note that something was amiss and know exactly who he needed to call in order to get the information to the proper personnel as accurately and efficiently as possible.

It just goes to show that despite current efforts to instill woke progressivism in the armed forces, our military is still the best around.

With our military doing so much for us to keep us safe and free, it is nice to see that even those not in uniform, and even citizens of other countries, have the backs of our servicemen and women in times of need.

From this story it seems clear that our military is still valued and appreciated, not just here at home but around the world.

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Jacob Gurney was a Western Journal contributor who started his writing career at his local daily newspaper. He has also written for various online media websites covering politics, sports and video games.
Jacob Gurney was a Western Journal contributor who started his writing career at his local daily newspaper. He has also written for various online media websites covering politics, sports and video games.