“His quick actions 100 percent saved my life:” 48th Fighter Wing F-15E Pilot praises Spotter Who Alerted Him to Engine Malfunction

“His quick actions 100 percent saved my life:” 48th Fighter Wing F-15E Pilot praises Spotter Who Alerted Him to Engine Malfunction

By Dario Leone
Jul 26 2021
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Mr. Ian Simpson happened to be watching planes take off at the base on Jul. 13 when he noted that one F-15E Strike Eagle was seemingly spewing fire and sparks out of its right rear engine, but the pilot seemed unaware.

On Jul. 20, 2021 an F-15E Strike Eagle pilot belonging to the 48th Fighter Wing at RAF Lakenheath, UK, met the civilian plane spotter who potentially saved his life.

According to a post appeared on RAF Lakenheath Facebook page, ‘U.S. Air Force Maj. Grant Thompson, 492nd Fighter Squadron pilot, recognizes Mr. Ian Simpson, local aviation enthusiast, for calling the 48th Fighter Wing air field ops after noticing sparks spewing from the right rear engine of an F-15E Strike Eagle shortly after take-off, 13 July 2021. Maj. Thompson was unaware of the malfunction to his aircraft and because of the quick actions of Mr. Simpson, he was alerted by RAFL personnel and returned back to base safely without further incident.’

According to Air Force Magazine, Simpson happened to be watching planes take off at the base on Jul. 13 when he noted that one F-15E Strike Eagle was seemingly spewing fire and sparks out of its right rear engine, but the pilot seemed unaware.

As reported by the BBC, Simpson called the Lakenheath’s switch board and was connected with the 48th Fighter Wing field operations group. From there, Thompson was alerted to the issue and was able to land safely without incident.

“From our perspective, it was a normal takeoff,” Thompson told the BBC, adding that Simpson’s quick actions “100 percent” saved his life as his wingmen later noted that it appeared to be a nozzle malfunction on his F-15E.

Simpson told the BBC that he knew something was wrong when he continued to see sparks coming from the engine after takeoff, realizing then that they were not an afterburner.

When Thompson and Simpson met, Thompson thanked Simpson and presented him with several gifts in appreciation, including a trucker hat and his 48th Fighter Wing insignia patch.

RAF Lakenheath, is located 70 miles northeast of London and 25 miles northeast of Cambridge. The Liberty Wing consists of more than 4,500 active-duty military members, over 1,000 British and U.S. civilians and includes a geographically-separated unit at nearby RAF Feltwell. RAF Lakenheath is the largest US Air Force-operated base in England and the only US Air Forces in Europe (USAFE) F-15 fighter wing. By teaming together the F-15E and F-15C, the unit brings unique air combat capabilities to the fight.

F-15E print
This print is available in multiple sizes from AircraftProfilePrints.com – CLICK HERE TO GET YOURS. F-15E Strike Eagle 366th Fighter Wing, 391st Fighter Squadron, MO/90-0249 – Mountain Home AFB, ID – 2008

Photo credit: BBC


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Dario Leone

Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

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