National Guard Pilot Honored for Landing Plane Without Landing Gear or Canopy

A harrowing flight ended with a safe landing

An A-10 in flight.
US Air Force

Landing a plane is a precise and trying process even under the best of circumstances. Landing a plane under the circumstances that Major Brett DeVries of the Michigan National Guard did in 2017, however, goes way beyond “trying” and into “absolutely staggering” territory. DeVries, you see, landed an A-10 without working landing gear and after his canopy had been torn away mid-flight.

At Task & Purpose, Paul Szoldra has the details of Maj. DeVries’s harrowing experience in the air — and brings news of the medal he received for his actions.

DeVries received the Distinguished Flying Cross from Air Force Secretary Barbara Barrett. When you hear more about his flight, it’s not hard to see why. Szoldra writes that DeVries was in the midst of a training mission when things went bad.

The first alert came from one of his fellow pilots. Szoldra writes that “his wingman, Maj. Shannon Vickers, reported seeing a “donut of gas” around the cockpit after DeVries fired the A-10’s 30mm cannon. The cannon malfunctioned moments later and the canopy ripped off.”

The issues with the canon also damaged parts of the plane’s body, including the landing gear. DeVries opted for a wheels-up landing, and descended to the ground slowly and carefully. Vickers assisted DeVries with elements of the landing; when he did land, it was safely.

Still, it’s a harrowing experience to read about; one can only imagine what it was like for DeVries and his fellow pilots as it occurred. The Distinguished Flying Cross is given to those who demonstrate “heroism or extraordinary achievement.” Given that, it’s not hard to see why DeVries was a recipient of this medal.

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