VALDOSTA, Ga. (WALB) – The celebrations take flight – literally – for two milestones at Moody Air Force Base.
On Wednesday, one of the planes from Moody Air Force Base took off for the first time after a forced landing at the beginning of last year.
This pilot was once again able to get behind his yoke.
It was a rough landing for Captain Taylor Bye, pilot of the 75th Fighter Squadron, when she was forced to touch down after a catastrophic cannon malfunction.
After more than a year of maintenance, the A-10C Thunderbolt ll has been recertified and can fly in the air again.
“Honestly, I feel like I’m on cloud 9. It’s a bit surreal. I have flown hundreds of times between what happened in 2020 and today. But today, this one just felt different. I was a little nervous than usual, ”said Bye.
The A-10C Thunderbolt ll is an attack aircraft and is used to support men and women on the ground.
Austin Duffey and Ryan Foltz are part of the maintenance crew that was able to get the jet back into operation. They say it was one of their most difficult repairs.
“It was quite gratifying to see him take off, accomplish his mission and come back safely,” said Duffey.
“Knowing that we took a plane that had been broken down for almost two years, that it was out of action, there were still some questions if it was even rebuildable. It’s great to put one back in the fight, ”said Foltz.
Bye recalled the incident during a walk around Grand Bay Range.
She tried to shoot her gun but it failed.
The malfunction prevented the landing gear from deploying, causing the panels to detach and the canopy to tear.
“It was such a crazy race. If you had asked me that morning, “Hey, do you think something crazy is going to happen today?” There was nothing wrong, there was no sign until then like, ‘hey, something’s wrong,’ Bye said.
Bye said she doesn’t think about it every time she flies, but she will never forget that day.
“I think it was survival mode. It was like, ‘okay I don’t have time for this, what do I do now to help myself and the jet land safely on the ground,’ “said Bye.
No time to panic, Bye recalls, she only had one chance to land, which she accomplished.
Bye said she owed her successful landing to her training, emergency procedures and remembering similar stories that happened to other pilots.
She is grateful to the team who helped in these critical moments and to the crew who were able to put him back in the sky.
Moody Air Force Base is also coming to its 80th anniversary in County Lowndes.
It started out as “Moody Field”, a training base for Army Air Corps pilots during World War II.
The concept of a military airfield in Valdosta was born in 1940.
The plan was to have a flight school at the Valdosta regional airport. But it fell through and their save was a 9,300 acre site, where the base is today.
The first group of 140 soldiers arrived in Moody on November 25, 1941.
Today, the grassroots impact on Lowndes County’s economy allows it to thrive through employment opportunities and population growth.
“There are a lot of things people don’t know about Moody Air Force Base. For example, we are approaching the 80th anniversary, but a lot of people don’t know that we had 11 WASP members here. This is the women’s air service where they transport planes to bases, ”said 23 Wing historian Mark Godwin.
A time to reflect on its rich history in the community, the base has evolved and changed over the years but continues to leave its mark.
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