“Just before the plane reached us … a lot of flames and sparks started coming back,” Simpson told CNN.
Simpson, who previously worked for Boeing in the design of aircraft traffic control systems, listened to the radio to see if any action would be taken between Pilot Major, Grant Thompson and the base, but to his surprise no one else noticed.
When he heard that the plane was about to refuel over the North Sea, Simpson realized that the pilot was unaware of the plane’s potential problems with the plane.
“It suddenly spread to me that they had no idea what was going to happen to them,” said the 5-year-old plane’s spotter. “So at the moment, I look at Google for the telephone number and call the base.”
The switchboard operator connected him to the Flight Operations Center, which then contacted air traffic control and the pilot. After Thompson confirmed to his wingman the damage to his F15-E Strike Eagle’s right motor, the plane returned safely to base.
Simpson may not think too much of his activities, but staff at the 48th Fighter Wing praised his quick thinking.
Capt. Mary Ortiz, head of media operations for the 47th Fighter Wing, which includes Thanson’s 492nd Fighter Squadron, said “the courage Ian showed was second to none.” “Just a phone call speaks piece by piece for our region and relationships.”
Ortiz said an event like this was “very rare” and Simpson said he had never seen anything like it in a 50-year-old plane.
“I’ve seen a few cases where something isn’t working … but when some part of the plane gets stuck in a waterfall, it’s a bit different.” He “When you’re close enough to the plane, you know you’ll never fix anything.”