Capt. Brett DeVries said he had to think fast when a “donut of gas” enveloped his gun and aircraft over Michigan’s Grayling Air Gunnery Range -- forcing him to make a dramatic belly-landing.
The 30 mm gun of his A-10 jet misfired just as the entire canopy of the aircraft blew off last month, the Air Force Times reported Tuesday.
DeVries, a pilot with the 107th Fighter Squadron of the Michigan Air National Guard, was exposed to winds approaching 350 miles per hour, officials said. The Air Force captain lowered the seat as far as it could go to offer protection from the air around him. The blown canopy had damaged the bottom of the aircraft too.
After assessing the damage, DeVries intended to belly-land the plane — with no wheels or canopy.
As DeVries and his wingman made the 25-minute flight from explosion to runway, they “talked through every possibility and how he was going to land it.”
DeVries came in shallow and slow, landed centerline and got out of the badly damaged jet on his own, according to Air Force Times.
“In this case, the training took over and it is what made the difference,” he said.