177th Fighter Wing participates in Coast Guard mishap exercise

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Matt Hecht
  • 177th Fighter Wing
Coast Guard Air Station Atlantic City was a flurry of activity on Feb. 11, 2014 during the facility's annual mishap exercise. This year's exercise scenario included the rescue of an aviator from the 177th Fighter Wing, forced to eject over the frigid Atlantic Ocean, followed by an aircraft collision at Atlantic City International Airport.

Maj. Jared Mandella, an F-16C Fighting Falcon pilot from the New Jersey Air National Guard's 177th Fighter Wing, was ferried out into the ocean for the hoist portion of the exercise.

"The exercise was an eye opening experience from the downed pilot perspective," said Mandella. "With air temperatures below freezing and the water temps just above freezing, bailing out over the Atlantic this time of year could be extremely hazardous even with the anti-exposure suits we wear."

Coast Guard rescue boats and helicopter crews responded quickly to the scene. Mandella was loaded into a basket and hoisted from the rescue boat to the hovering MH-65D Dolphin helicopter.

Once Mandella was onboard, the rescue crew made their way back to Air Station Atlantic City, where they were met with the second phase of the exercise: a simulated collision with a Federal Aviation Administration research & development aircraft.

Fire and rescue crews from Atlantic City International Airport and the 177th Fighter Wing responded to the scene of the exercise, and assisted simulated casualties in extremely low temperatures.

"These types of exercises are an excellent way for us to establish relationships, validate our procedures and our techniques, and to learn and find areas where we can improve," said Col. Kerry Gentry, commander of the 177th Fighter Wing. "We learn the capabilities and the constraints of our Coast Guard rescuers. It's a difficult and challenging training environment, but it's very valuable for us."

"I'm confident that if a real-world situation developed with these challenging conditions, the downed aircrew would be in great hands with the Coast Guard rescue teams," said Mandella.