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Moody AFB pilot takes jet to the skies a year after crash landing

Base’s 80th anniversary approaching
Video from WALB
Published: Nov. 3, 2021 at 7:05 PM EDT
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VALDOSTA, Ga. (WALB) - Celebrations are taking flight — one quite literally — for two milestones at Moody Air Force Base.

On Wednesday, one of Moody Air Force Base’s aircraft took off for the first time after a crash landing early last year.

That pilot was once again able to get behind its yoke.

It was a rough landing for Capt. Taylor Bye, a pilot in the 75th Fighter Squadron, when she was forced to touch ground after a catastrophic gun malfunction.

After over a year of maintenance, A-10C Thunderbolt ll has been recertified and can now soar through the skies once again.

“Honestly, I feel like I’m on cloud 9. It’s kind of surreal. I’ve flown hundreds of times between what happened back in 2020 and today. But today, this one just felt different. I was a little nervous than normal,” said Bye.

A-10C Thunderbolt ll is an attack aircraft and is used to support the men and women on the ground.

Austin Duffey and Ryan Foltz are part of the maintenance crew that was able to get the jet back up and running. They say this was one of their most challenging repairs.

A-10C Thunderbolt ll is an attack aircraft and is used to support the men and women on the...
A-10C Thunderbolt ll is an attack aircraft and is used to support the men and women on the ground.(WALB)

“It was pretty rewarding seeing it actually take off, do its mission and come back safely,” said Duffey.

“To know that we took an airplane that had been down for almost two years, it was out of the fight, there were still some questions if it was even rebuildable. It feels great to put one back in the fight,” said Foltz.

Bye recalled the incident during a ride around Grand Bay Range.

She attempted to fire her gun but it failed.

The malfunction prevented the landing gear from deploying, which caused panels to fly off and rip off the canopy.

“That was such a wild ride. If you would’ve asked me that morning, ‘hey, do you think anything crazy will happen today?’ There was nothing abnormal, there weren’t any signs until that point like, ‘hey, something is feeling off,’” said Bye.

Bye said she doesn’t think about it every time she flies, but she’ll never forget that day.

“I think it was survival mode. It was like, ‘okay, I don’t have time for that, what do I need to do right now to help myself and the jet get safely on the ground,’” said Bye.

No time for panic, Bye recalled, she had one shot at landing, which she accomplished.

Bye said she owes her successful landing to her training, emergency procedures, and remembering similar stories that have happened to other pilots.

She’s grateful to the team that aided in those critical moments and the crew that was able to get it back in the sky.

After over a year of maintenance, A-10C Thunderbolt ll has been recertified and can now soar...
After over a year of maintenance, A-10C Thunderbolt ll has been recertified and can now soar through the skies once again.(WALB)
Video from WALB

Moody Air force Base is also coming up on its 80th anniversary in Lowndes County.

It initially began as “Moody Field,” an Army Air Corps pilot training base during World War II.

The concept of an Army airfield in Valdosta originated in 1940.

The plan was to have a flying school at Valdosta Regional Airport. But it fell through and their backup was a 9,300-acre site, which is where the base stands today.

The first group of 140 military personnel arrived at Moody on November 25, 1941.

Today, the base’s impact on Lowndes County’s economy lets it thrive with job opportunities and population growth.

”There’s a lot of things that people don’t know about Moody Air Force Base. For example, we’re coming up on the 80th anniversary but a lot of people don’t know we had 11 WASP members here. That’s the women air service where they ferry the aircraft to the bases,” said Mark Godwin, 23rd Wing historian.

A time to reflect on its rich history in the community, the base has evolved and changed through the years but continues to leave its mark.

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