The 177th Fighter Wing is normally busy at Air Station Atlantic City, but Wednesday morning a 20 member crash recovery team from the fighter wing went to the Cape May Airport for an aircraft crash recovery simulation.
Attached to a crane an F–16 fighter jet went up into the air as a team prepared to maneuver it.
"The team needs to be qualified. You can't just go out. If this is something you never did before," Gerard Sheehan from the 177th Fighter Wing said.
That is exactly why this team is here. After the crane was attached, in a coordinated effort the group attached ropes and controlled the plane as if it were being removed from a runway after an accident.
"One of the requirements is for us to do an actual lift which would in the situation an aircraft had crashed, didn't have landing gear we would be required to lift that aircraft up on to a flatbed truck to remove it," Sheehan added.
The reason this exercise took place here at the Cape May County Airport is because this plane came from Shepard Air force base in Texas last summer and the guys from this unit volunteered their time in August to put it together, now they say they will continue to do their exercises here from now on.
"We are enamored with the ability of these guys and their generosity of giving their time and we welcome them back for other maneuvers which cannot be done on fly aircraft," Dr. Joseph Salvatore said.
Practicing on a plane that will never fly again is much safer and poses a decreased risk for damage to an operational plane.
The team leader says performing these types of drills is what makes them one of the best crash recovery teams in the country.
"We're always ready and this is one of the things we do to stay trained and stay qualified if something does happen were ready to go," Sheehan said.