Local News

Military Pilots Paying More Attention to Safety After Stand-down

Posted October 2, 1997 12:00 a.m. EDT

— Serving in the military is a dangerous job, even during peace time. Just last month, there were six mishaps involving military aircraft. Four of those were deadly.

The crashes had every branch of the military standing down for 24 hours. Those who fly military plane are finding themselves paying more attention to safety measures.

WRAL'sTerri Grucawas overseas with Fort Bragg soldiers in the former Soviet Union and flew back on a C-141. She described how the crashes affected the way the crews flew.

All the preparations, all the safety checks. Once routine for air force crews, but not anymore. The C-141 crew flew over the Atlantic days after six air force planes crashed.

"When the 141 went down I thought that's this airplane you know that guy was sitting right here doing what I'm doing from the same base," said TSGT Clint Williams, flight engineer.

Williams keeps a picture of his family on his desk to keep him focused, which can be hard when most crews are loaded down with work. The air force used to have no trouble staffing flights but now there are fewer training exercises because they don't have enough people.

"We're undermanned," said SRA Jason Gray, flight engineer. "We're 67% manned that's underneath what the air force sets down as a standard."

Even if you're not part of the crew but flying as one of the passengers, soldiers, while they're thinking about the accidents, say it's still part of the job.

Despite military cutbacks, safety remains a top priority. To stay safe crew members count on each other.

"We're all in it together," said Williams. "We back up each other cause if anything goes wrong you're all going to go down together so you've got to keep that crew concept."

Crew members said they go through several weeks of safety training a year.