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Lt. Colonel Ret. Kevin Sweeney continues the Pillars of America Speaker Series
Published: 05/03/2012 11:15:00
Updated: 05/10/2012 13:07:22

The Glacier Valley Rotary Club's "Pillars of America" featured speaker this week was Lt. Colonel Ret. Kevin Sweeney, a Desert Storm Combat Pilot who lost both engines off the left wing of his aircraft during a night time combat mission. In an interview with KINY's Pete Carran, he related the story behind the famous incident.

"We were going up to refuel by the Iraqi border and we hit jet wash from another tanker that was 2.6 miles ahead of us and 500 feet above us. The autopilot malfunctions and throws us into this Dutch Roll, well we're going from 110 degrees of bank in both directions every 1.1 seconds so just take your hand and flip it back and forth 110 degrees. In 1.1 seconds, they got that off the black box. I get us out of the Dutch Roll and there's two fire lights on, I say to the old boom operator, Steve Stucky one of my crew members, I said 'Steve go back there and scan that left wing tell me how bad the fires are.' Because I'm looking at the engine instruments they look like Times Square on New Year's Eve, everything's lit up; I'm trading altitude for airspeed, the old Copilot I tell him he starts dumping fuel because we're trying to get her to fly again and old Steve Stucky he comes back on the interphone and says 'They're not on fire, they're gone.' "

And, as a motivational speaker, the Lt. Colonel also brings a message to the youth of our community.

"You're responsible for what you do, and when you make some of life's decisions early in life you have to live with them so you don't want to drop out of school you want to continue and get as much education as you can. Education never stops, we'll talk about that, that education never stops and you don't know when your final exam is coming, but if you've prepared, you will be successful in your final exam. I'm not necessarily talking about the schools final exam; I'm talking about the final exam you might face in life."

By: Rik Pruett -