Airman spots aircraft fuel leak at 35,000 feet

Discussion in 'Academy/Military News' started by Luigi59, Jun 2, 2009.

  1. Luigi59

    Luigi59 Banned

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    Airman spots aircraft fuel leak at 35,000 feet

    by Tech. Sgt. Rey Ramon
    18th Wing Public Affairs

    [​IMG]
    Staff Sgt. Bartek Bachleda spots a fuel leak on a civilian aircraft on a flight from Chicago to Narita airport, Japan. Sergeant Bachleda alerted the pilots and aircrew about the leak, and the ranking pilot made the decision to divert the flight to San Francisco. Sergeant Bachleda is a 909th Air Refueling Squadron boom operator at Kadena Air Base, Japan. (Courtesy photo)


    5/14/2009 - KADENA AIR BASE, Japan (AFNS) -- Most of us hear stories of Airmen saving lives in combat, but an Airman who saves the lives of more than 300 passengers is definitely a story worth hearing.

    A fuel leak on a civilian aircraft caught the attention of Staff Sgt. Bartek Bachleda, 909th Air Refueling Squadron boom operator, during a flight from Chicago to Narita airport, Japan. After alerting the pilots and aircrew, the ranking pilot made the decision to divert the flight to San Francisco.

    "I noticed the leak on the left side of the aircraft right behind the wing earlier during take-off," said Sergeant Bachleda.

    Sergeant Bachleda continued analyzing the outflow of fuel to be 100 percent sure it was a leak while the plane was reaching cruising altitude. Almost an hour into the flight, he told a stewardess of the possible leak, but was given an unconcerned response.

    Sergeant Bachleda then began to capture the possible leak on video. He then got the stewardess' attention by saying, "Ma'am it's an emergency." He identified himself to her and showed her the leak on video.

    "She was completely serious and was no longer handing out drinks," he said. "I told her you need to inform your captain before we go oceanic."

    The captain came from the cockpit to where Sergeant Bachleda was sitting to see the leak and view the video footage. Sergeant Bachleda said the captain and the crew were trying to figure out how the aircraft was losing 6,000 pounds of fuel an hour and then they knew exactly what was going on.

    The captain made a mid-air announcement the flight would be diverted back to Chicago, but then changed it to San Francisco so passengers could catch the only existing flight to Narita airport.

    Once the flight arrived in San Francisco, Sergeant Bachleda and a coworker were asked to stay back while the aircraft was deplaned. They waited for the arrival of investigators, the fire chief, and the owner of the airport to explain what went wrong.

    "When we got off the airplane everyone was thanking us," said the sergeant.

    While conversing with the captain, the sergeant said he was hesitant at first to inform them about the leak, but he knew it was abnormal. The captain said they would have never made it to Japan if it wasn't for him.

    The two Airmen were placed in a hotel overnight and flew back to Japan the next morning. The airline company showed their appreciation by seating them first-class.

    :thumb:
     
  2. America's Finest

    America's Finest USMA Cadet

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  3. Bombtrack

    Bombtrack Member

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    this shows that the non-commissioned side of the Air Force isn't too shabby either:thumb:
     
  4. flieger83

    flieger83 Super Moderator Moderator

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    Lawsuits for what?

    As for "...did they deserve a little more...?"

    No; they did what any good passenger should do when they see something out of ordinary: they brought it to the crews attention. The good thing is that they were KC crewdogs and knew a bit about flying.
     
  5. Bullet

    Bullet Member

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    Come on, admit it Flieger. You still harbor that fantasy EVERY time you get on a commercial airliner that sometime during the middle of the flight, that pretty blond flight attendant will come rushing back to the passenger cabin with a panicked look in her eyes and announce, "Does anyone here know how to fly and land a plane? The crew is unconsious!"

    In that fantasy, you of course stand up, put your hands on your hips while you look jauntingly to the right and up, chin out, with a breeze blowing through your hair (how did that happen in a enclosed airplane at 37,000 feet? Oh well..) as you announce to EVERYONE on board, "Why Yes! I'M an Air Force Pilot!" :biggrin:
     
  6. America's Finest

    America's Finest USMA Cadet

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    Really? Have you seen the dumb stuff people win lawsuits for? (coffee too hot, eating too much made me fat, etc.) They could sue for negligence and putting them in danger and if the worst had happened the families could have sued if they had crashed.

    And yes he did what any decent person would do but he potentially saved 300 lives. If someone saved yours I'm sure you'd give them more than a smile even though the person did the "good" thing...just sayin I would have given the guy more.

    Bullet...:yllol:
     
  7. flieger83

    flieger83 Super Moderator Moderator

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    Yes, there have been some amazing lawsuit victories in the USA but, ahh, there's the rub...ANA is a Japanese Flag Carrier; not a US Flag Carrier...so if you wanted to sue for something that didn't happen...the Japanese would have to approve it, and then allow your case to proceed.

    Not gonna happen.

    And besides, the pilots had noticed the fuel loss and already determined they couldn't go over the ocean. BUT...KUDOS to our fearless Boomer from the 909th ARS on his brining it the attention of the flight crew.

    As for Bullet...Hmm...how do I respond to Bullet (again)...:scratch:

    AHH!!! :idea:

    Flieger's pilot fantasies... ****TOP SECRET/SIOP ESI/NOFORN****

    "I guess I could say something but then...well, you know..."

    As for the breeze blowing back the hair...Bullet, you WELL know that pilots live in a vacuum and we can create ANY atmospheric condition to fit our needs. Didn't you ever see the creativity of your drivers when filling out the 781s? :wink:
     
  8. America's Finest

    America's Finest USMA Cadet

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    Well I still think he deserves more. :rolleyes: lol
     
  9. BlessedX4

    BlessedX4 Member

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    ^^^ Bullet - that was a good one!! :yllol:
     
  10. Bullet

    Bullet Member

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    Flieger,

    I have to disagree with your "pilots living in a vacuum" theory. I think the answer lies in the fact that most of the pilots I knew were SO convinced that the world revolved around them that their hair actually blew in the breeze created by their own imaginary centrifugal forces. :shake: Takes years of training, combined with the strongest sense of "Gee, I AM God-like", to make the effect permanent, but it can be done! :biggrin:

    As to what my nose-gunners wrote in the 781s: I usually didn't get a chance to see them. He (or she) had me carrying their helmet bag back to life support immediately after landing so I can get their afternoon massage squared away.

    At least the tips were nice! :yllol:
     

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