Practice Mission Turns Real-World Rescue:

A routine operational readiness inspection exercise took an unexpected turn into a real search and rescue mission, when an E-8 Joint STARS crew with the 116th Air Control Wing, Robins AFB, Ga., was diverted to help with the rescue of a Marine Corps AV-8B Harrier pilot, whose aircraft went down at sea. Asked to leave their ORI orbit and head south off the coast of St. Augustine, Fla., the E-8 aircrew set up a new orbit and turned radio control over to the mission crew. The Joint STARS task: Establish what rescue elements were in the area and keep them de-conflicted. Rescue is not the usual fare for Joint STARS crews. After the 6.5 hour diversion, the E-8 returned to its ORI.