This article appeared in the August 03, 2021 edition of the Monitor Daily.

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Civilian courage leads to military safety

Capt Marie Ortiz/RAF Lakenheath/AP
U.S. Air Force Maj. Grant Thompson (right) rips the flight patch from his shoulder to give to Ian Simpson as they meet at the viewing area outside Royal Air Force Lakenheath in England on July 20, 2021. Mr. Simpson, a photographer, was honored by the 48th Fighter Wing for alerting Lakenheath about the troubles when he realized the pilot wasn’t aware of the issue.
Kim Campbell
Culture & Education Editor

You don’t always know when you’re going to be asked to step up.

Ian Simpson was photographing fighter jets taking off at Royal Air Force Lakenheath, a U.S.-run base in England, when he and a group of enthusiasts noticed something coming from the back of a plane: sparks – lots of them.

Mr. Simpson – who is English and has worked for Boeing – found a phone number and managed to convince those at the base that he was onto something. They contacted the pilot and his crew, who hadn’t yet noticed there was an engine problem, and all returned safely.

“For most of us here, this was a very rare occurrence that we have not personally witnessed,” the air base said in a statement to The Associated Press. “It’s wonderful to know that the Liberty Wing has such a great partnership with the local community – and the courage that Ian displayed was next to none.”

Mr. Simpson has said his concern grew out of a 2020 incident in which an American pilot from the same base died in a crash in the nearby North Sea. That he was able to thwart a potential tragedy seemed to be enough for him. But the pilot involved, U.S. Air Force Maj. Grant Thompson, thought he should have more.

A Facebook video captures the moment he ripped a patch from his jumpsuit as an offering of thanks to Mr. Simpson. A grand gesture in response to a grand action.

This article appeared in the August 03, 2021 edition of the Monitor Daily.

Read 08/03 edition
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