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Air Force jet transports boy awaiting liver transplant

  • Published
  • By Sonic Johnson
  • 14th Flying Training Wing Public Affairs
"Family Day" took on a whole new meaning Thursday for an 8-year old boy awaiting a liver transplant.  

For Ryan McCalip, son of Maj. Randy and Heather McCalip, the big day began with a 5 a.m. phone call.

Major McCalip, of the 14th Medical Group here, was notified of a donor match in Pittsburgh.  However, young Ryan would have to be on the operating table there in just six hours.  With no commercial or charter operations in the area that could meet the criteria, Major McCalip asked if a T-1A "Jayhawk" aircraft could help. 
 
Fortunately for the McCalips, members of the 14th Flying Training Wing here started work on a medical evacuation plan almost a year earlier in August 2006.  

"Since the planning was completed in January 2007, the 48th Flying Training Squadron has had a crew and aircraft on alert 24/7," said Maj. Chuck Sanders, assistant director of operations for the 48th FTS. 

Despite most of the base populace being off-duty due to the Air Education and Training Command Family Day and a planned closure of the flightline, a T-1A launched on the short-notice medical evacuation mission at 8:20 a.m. -- less than two hours after being notified. 

Piloted by Capt. John Cudar and 1st Lt. Cory Henwood, the plane was airborne less than two hours after notification. "Twenty minutes after departing Columbus, the air traffic controllers coordinated direct routing to our destination when they found out we were a MEDEVAC flight," Captain Cudar said. Following the one hour and 34 minute flight to Allegheny County Airport in Pennsylvania the aircraft arrived with its special passengers. 

Now the final testing and waiting begins. 

"Operations like this are not common in AETC," said Col. Dave Gerber, 14th Flying Training Wing commander.  "We are blessed to be able to support the McCalip family. It will take courage and family strength to get Ryan through the next three months. We look forward to their return to Columbus AFB healthy and on a road to recovery."
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