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20th FW, Coast Guard participate in water survival training

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Destinee Sweeney
  • 20th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
Pilots assigned to the 20th Fighter Wing participated in water survival training at Coast Guard Station Tybee, Georgia, Nov. 8.

The water survival training gave pilots an opportunity to practice tactics, techniques and procedures used to survive an aircraft ejection over water.

“This is the first evolution that we’re doing with Shaw AFB,” said Chief Warrant Officer 3 Lee Heitner, U.S. Coast Guard Sector Charleston boat forces officer. “We want to measure the success of this mission, and we hope to support Shaw in the future. The interoperability between the Coast Guard and the other Department of Defense sister services is very crucial.”

During the training, pilots simulated aircraft ejection and swam to a nearby life raft. After getting into the raft, they radioed for helicopter support.

The helicopter pilot lowered the craft enough so a Coast Guard swimmer could jump out, swim to the pilot and assess his condition. When the assessment was complete, the swimmer signaled the helicopter, which in turn lowered the rescue strap to hoist the pilot to safety.

Heitner said there was definitely some valuable training on both sides. For the Coast Guard, their helicopter crews practiced lowering swimmers, assessing the pilots and hoisting the pilots into the aircraft.

Although only a handful of Team Shaw pilots were able to participate in the training, the impact will continue to make waves.

“We’ll take back these lessons learned so if this ever happens in real life to any of our pilots, they are better equipped to handle the situation,” said Capt. Andrew Davis, 20th Operations Support Squadron wing weapons and tactics chief.

The water survival training provided the opportunity to increase 20th FW pilots’ capabilities as well as strengthen the relationships between Shaw and its neighboring units. Land, sky or sea, the sister services of the U.S. military train together to fight together.