Air Force Pilot Saves Plane, World, with One Hand Tied Behind his Back
A US Air Force T-6A Texan II experienced an engine failure in April, and solo instructor pilot Capt Eric Clements safely recovered it to Vance AFB in Enid, Oklahoma. The incident was reportedly in the local press (and then picked up at the Stars and Stripes and Military.com), and Clements was quoted being somewhat effusive in praise about his own performance:
“It was beautiful,” he said with a smile. “It was really one of my better ELPs (emergency landing patterns) I had ever done.”
Since he teaches students to handle emergencies such as the one he faced, Clements was asked what grade he would give himself for his work that day.
“I would have graded myself an excellent,” he said. “I want to be humble and stuff, but it was actually pretty textbook.”
“I did all the procedures you are supposed to, and I did really good energy management to get back,” he said, “so it worked out real nice.”
Now, to be fair, recovering a single-engine aircraft after an engine failure is not an insignificant task. It might seem more significant for Clements, who previously flew the KC-135, a four-engine tanker that practically flies by committee. Fortunately, the Air Force does a decent job of training its pilots, and Clements seems to have done a professional job of executing that training.
That tends to be the “standard” response of Air Force pilots after such an incident: ‘I just did what I was trained to do.’ That’s what makes Clements’ self-praise a little unusual — and it sets him up for a good deal of ribbing.
Were he a part of a fighter squadron, the article would end up taped up on virtually every wall in the building, with editorial commentary penciled in throughout. It would also likely be followed by threats of a “hostile renaming,” likely to Eric “Textbook” Clements, or maybe just “ITeM,” as in “I am The Man.” Since T-6 training squadrons are made up of all kinds of pilots, its possible he may even see a bit of that “good-natured” grief.
Clements did a decent job of recovering his aircraft, as he was trained to do, and his performance is worthy of recognition. His fellow pilots are probably having fun with him, too.