A-10 pilot honored for landing Warthog without working landing gear, cockpit canopy

| May 13, 2021

Capt Taylor Bye, A-10 pilot extraordinaire

This is one badass, ballsy young aviator. If the story sounds familiar, the same exact thing happened to a Michigan Air National Guard pilot, Major Brett DeVries. He earned a DFC for his airmanship, and I think Captain Bye deserves similar.

Air Force Times reports;

A typical training flight over Georgia last spring turned nightmarish for A-10C Thunderbolt II pilot Capt. Taylor Bye when her attack aircraft began falling apart in midair.

Juggling a malfunctioning 30mm Gatling gun, a landing gear that wouldn’t deploy and a cockpit canopy that fell off in flight, Bye managed to safely land the aircraft with minimal damage to the runway or the plane.

Her courage and cool in crisis earned her the Air Combat Command’s Airmanship Award in a May 5 ceremony at Moody Air Force Base, Georgia, where she serves as a 75th Fighter Squadron pilot and its chief of standardization and evaluation.

The emergency occurred April 7, 2020, while Bye was flying at the Grand Bay Bombing and Gunnery Range east of Moody. During a surface attack ride, a key maneuver for swooping down to shoot at enemies on the ground, Bye tried to fire the A-10?s gun but suffered “severe failures,” according to a May 7 Air Force release.

She climbed farther away from the ground to check whether her engines were still functioning. Her nearby wingman, Maj. Jack Ingber, the squadron’s assistant operations director, looked over her jet from his own plane and helped guide Bye back to the runway.

“When anything [unusual] happens, it’s apparent and very easy to spot it and fix it,” Ingber said in the release. “It’s my primary job to think of everything that [Bye] is not because she has a massive handful of an airplane that is falling apart.”

On her canopy-less descent back to Moody, Bye tried to shift down in her seat to shield herself from the 350-mph winds whipping the plane — but blocked her view of the runway in the process.

“I thought, ‘where’s the ground, where’s the ground’ … I was holding my breath at that point,” she said in the release. “I guess I was nervous the whole time, but I didn’t have time to think about being nervous. My job was to take care of myself and to take care of the jet.”

A chase aircraft accompanied her back to base, where airmen on the ground hoped she could avoid a fatal crash.

“What’s most important is preventing total loss of the A-10 or even worse, her life,” squadron commander Lt. Col. Stephen Joca said.

Bye maintained control of the aircraft and safely landed the Warthog on its belly.

BZ Captain Bye! I feel like after the first pilot lost their canopy unexpectedly they’d find and fix that problem. Not exactly the sort of thing you want to lose routinely in a high performance single seat jet aircraft.

Category: Air Force, Bravo Zulu

Comments (13)

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  1. Jay says:

    Having huge brass ones knows no gender! Well done Capt Bye. Having a cool head and extreme know how kept her from becoming Capt “Bye-Bye!”.

    That A-10 is a hell of an aircraft, and luckily it has enough back up systems built in you can ‘stick and rudder’ it to the ground. Landing it belly first, with no windscreen, and walking away is a huge testament to her skill as an aviator.

  2. Jerry says:

    Kudos to the Captain, and the Fairchild Engineers…
    I was stationed at Davis Monthan when the first switched a unit there converted to the A10 (I think they had A7’s). My unit was not attached to the Base Parent command, so we had a lone hanger on the NW corner of the DM, that required crossing the Runway threshold to get to.
    One morning I was there as the sun came up, and a Fairchild Test Pilot was putting on an airshow adjacent to the runway at our end.
    I wandered out the few hundred yards until I was directly underneath the “show”. The A10 was clean of munitions, and must have been very light on fuel. He was taking the A10 straight up, rolling on its axis, then pull over the top, and come straight down, still rolling on its axis….
    I was directly under him, could clearly see the white helmet, and when he pulled up, he was low enough to kick up sand and tumbleweeds….. 1st pass I was under him, coated me in sand, including my coffee 🙁
    Regards
    Jerry

  3. Mustang Major says:

    Don’t look now, but Captain Bye has a pony tail.

  4. Bim says:

    350mph on final, in an A-10? I think someone misunderstood what was being said. The A-10 is an awesome beast, but fast it is not.

    That girl has ovaries of iron, though.

    • rgr769 says:

      Someone is ignorant of the final approach airspeed for the A-10. It has to be around 150-170 kts without gear and flaps deployed.

      • cobrakai99 says:

        They refueled at around 200 knots and could barely stay on the boom. 350 is way too fast.

  5. Sparks says:

    Good for Captain Bye.

    Any landing you can walk away from is a good landing.

    Any landing where they can still use the aircraft is a great landing.

    • USAFRetired says:

      Shiny side up, rubber side down and everyone walking away is a good thing.

      I’m not buying 350 mph. Lets face it the A-10 and T-37 shared the trait of taking bird strikes from the rear.

      Well done Captain.

      • Steve says:

        Ha! 🙂

        Outstanding work by an outstanding pilot! I could only hope that I could be that cool under pressure.

        Well done to her.

  6. KoB says:

    BZ to this Good Pilot, Good Job on saving a well trained Aviatrix AND my all time favorite late model Aerial Artillery Platform. Hell, I wouldn’t mind saying Hi to Captain Bye my ownself. IDC SARC, the line forms behind me! And the Pony Tail? Uh huh, Cowboy Style…Giddy up!

    Remember during my Road Warrior Days as they were training up the ‘Hawg Squadrons down there at Moody, driving cross the range area and watching them badass low level gun and rocket runs.

  7. Devtun says:

    Another awesome Hog airmanship from back in ’03.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kim_Campbell_(pilot)

  8. FuzeVT says:

    Awesome job, Captain!

    “Juggling a malfunctioning 30mm Gatling gun, a landing gear that wouldn’t deploy and a cockpit canopy that fell off in flight”

    I get one of those things happening, but what the hell caused all 3? The job her maintenance team has been doing has likely been looked at quite closely since the mishap.

    Reminded me of this where the 64 year old in France inadvertently ejected but the pilot (who wasn’t ejected for some reason) landed the plane. At least he had wheels.
    https://edition.cnn.com/travel/article/france-fighter-jet-ejection-scli-intl/index.html

  9. Graybeard says:

    Excellent job, Captain Bye!

    Note to any and all adult males in this young lady’s life, and any current or future children:

    Do NOT mess with this lady.