By Ed Adamczyk
Nov. 9 (UPI) — The Secretary of the Air Force presented the Distinguished Flying Cross to an Air National Guard pilot who landed a plane missing its canopy and landing gear.
Maj. Brett DeVries, of the 127th Wing of the Michigan Air National Guard’s 107th Fighter Squadron, was honored Friday for his safe return from a 2017 training mission of his A-10 Thunderbolt II plane.
A malfunctioning cannon ripped the canopy from the plane as it flew at an altitude of 150 feet and at about 375 mph, and kept the nosewheel from descending for landing. The plane flew for 25 minutes in its disabled condition before it landed.
After the incident the Air Force noted that it was the first time a pilot had to land an A-10 with a missing canopy and landing gear in the “up” position. The A-10, known as the Warthog, has been in service since 1977.
“Landing a plane with the gear down is good,” the Air Force said in its investigation of the incident. “Landing with it up is not ideal. Landing with some of it up and some of it down, well, those stories seldom end well.”
Air Force Secretary Barbara Bennett awarded DeVries the medal at a ceremony at Selfridge Air National Guard Base, Mich., near Detroit, on Friday.
“The Distinguished Flying Cross is America’s oldest military aviation decoration,” Barrett said, “awarded for heroism or extraordinary achievement that is, ‘entirely distinctive, involving operations that are not routine.’ Today, Major DeVries, you will join the ranks of some other American heroes.”
“You certainly demonstrated heroism and extraordinary achievement in your flight,” Barrett added.
DeVries is a veteran of over 120 overseas combat missions.
In April 2020, an A-10 made a similar emergency belly landing at Moody Air Force Base, Ga. It, too, landed safely.