The Argentine Air Force Pampa II advanced jet trainer and light attack aircraft seems to be one mighty strong airframe. With the right pilot at the controls that is, according to a recent press release by the US Air Force.
It was an American pilot who managed to land an AT-63 Pampa II with only 20 percent of its left wing remaining. USAF Maj Douglas Witmer, on exchange with the 4th Brigade 1st Squadron of the Fuerza Aérea Argentina (FAA), was flying as an instructor pilot in a 6-ship formation over Cordoba in Argentine on 10 August 2012. All of a sudden Witmer’s wingman made an aggressive aerial manoeuvre, slamming his plane into Witmer’s aircraft in front of a crowd of aviation enthousiasts.
The mid-air collision resulted in the loss of 80 percent of the left wing and several key controls on Major Witmers plane. Against all odds, the USAF exchange instructor pilot was able to maintain some sort of control of the Pampa II. According to the USAF press release Witmer “diverted his aircraft away from a nearby crowd of spectators and the aircraft formation and instructed the student aboard his aircraft to prepare to eject. Judging his aircraft to be damaged but airworthy, Witmer was able to avoid ejecting from the aircraft and landed at a nearby airport, which had a longer runway and greater rescue facilities.”
For his outstanding flying skills Maj Witmer recieved a special award (2013 Koren Kolligian Jr. Trophy) on 14 November 2013 at the Pentagon in Washington.