Congratulations to Barb Gordon, a civilian rotary wing instructor at the USN Test Pilot School (TPS), and Chief Warrant Officer 3 Sylvia Grandstaff (then) a student at the USN TPS, both SETP members, who accepted the US Army’s Broken Wing Award. According to the Navy press release: “Highly regarded and rarely awarded, the Army gives the Broken Wing to aircrew who have minimized or prevented loss of life and aircraft through outstanding airmanship during inflight emergencies. Gordon’s award marked the first time the Army presented the Broken Wing outside of the service.” The brief story is harrowing, and I hope Gordon and Grandstaff present a more detailed talk at a future symposium. According to the Army: “During the single-engine test technique with one engine at idle, the helicopter suffered failure on the opposite engine. [The crew] had less than five seconds to recover the aircraft and experienced rates of descent between 9,000 and 12,000 feet per minute. According to the investigation, the mishap would have been catastrophic if not for the immediate actions by Gordon and then student Grandstaff.”
U.S. Naval Test Pilot School rotary instructor, Barb Gordon, the Navy’s first to receive the Army’s Broken Wing Award, prepares for a performance flight demonstration in the same UH-60L Black Hawk she successfully recovered during what would have been a catastrophic ground collision on a demo flight with an Army test pilot under instruction. Gordon received the highly regarded and rarely awarded honor during a ceremony June 6 at Patuxent River, Maryland. (USN photo)
Here Sylvia poses next to a USN Test Pilot School helicopter prior to a syllabus test flight.