Fairchild Airmen rescue seaplane pilot at Clear Lake Resort

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Three Airmen assigned to the 92nd Air Refueling Squadron rescued a pilot from an overturned seaplane at Clear Lake Resort, Washington, June 23rd, 2023.

MSgt Mathew Ohle, senior enlisted leader; MSgt Jesse Wright, squadron operations superintendent and his wife Kerry; and TSgt Nathaniel Perry, noncommissioned officer in charge of standards and evaluations, and his wife Sandra; were boating at a squadron lake party when they witnessed a seaplane flip upside down while attempting to land.

“I was driving the boat,” said Perry.  “We were wake surfing when we saw it flip. I told everyone to hold on and drove straight toward the plane.”

The pilot was still underwater when the group arrived at the plane, so Wright jumped in to assess and render aid.

“I immediately jumped out of the boat with a life jacket in hand,” said Wright. “When the pilot surfaced, I told him to put it on and that’s when I noticed a large bump on his forehead.

“He was worried about a concussion, but he confirmed he was the only one in the plane,” Wright added.

Ohle and Perry stayed on the boat to manage the situation, relay the pilot’s information to another boat that was contacting emergency services, and devise a plan to tow the seaplane to shore.

“I was prepared to jump out of the boat to help,” said Ohle. “But when I saw Wright go into the water, I instead engaged in assisting from the boat as we’ve been instructed to do in our aircrew training.”

The three Airmen then helped the pilot board their boat and proceeded to tow his plane to shore where emergency services were waiting.

“It was just like any of our emergency procedures that we are trained to react to,” said Ohle. “Instinct kicked in and we reacted automatically. We came together as a community to respond as a team.”

Thanks to the Airmen’s quick thinking and extensive emergency preparedness training, an injured pilot was able to get immediate medical care.