Navy: Fallen pilot’s ‘heroic’ flying saved lives in Philippine Sea crash
WASHINGTON — Navy Lt. Steven Combs determined an emergency landing of his transport plane on the choppy waters of the Philippine Sea was necessary as the aircraft he was piloting failed only miles from the deck of the USS Ronald Reagan, according to Navy officials.
The 28-year-old pilot’s decision to land the C-2A Greyhound on the water ultimately saved the lives of eight of the 11 people aboard the aircraft, Combs’ co-pilot told Navy investigators probing the Nov. 22 crash. Combs, Seaman Matthew Chialastri and Seaman Apprentice Bryan Grosso were declared dead in the crash after their bodies were not recovered during a three-day search.
“Lt. Combs’ co-pilot was effusive in his praise. He said, ‘He flew the hell out of that plane,’” Navy Cmdr. Ronald Flanders, a spokesman for Naval Air Forces, told Stars and Stripes. “It was heroic. A remarkable piece of flying that was instrumental in saving eight lives.”
The Navy is considering a posthumous award for Combs’ actions, Flanders added.
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