An F-16 Pilot Told US What It Feels Like to Get Shot Out of the Sky

An F-16 Pilot Told US What It Feels Like to Get Shot Out of the Sky

Dario Leone



On the morning of Jun. 8, 1995, they found him, sprinting from the woods into a small opening, 9mm pistol in his hand in case there was enemy fire.

On Jun. 2, 1995 U.S. Air Force (USAF) F-16 pilot Scott O’Grady (callsign Basher Five-Two) was flying a standard “two-ship” formation with Bob “Wilbur” Wright (callsign Basher Five-One) as the lead pilot to keep peace in Bosnia.

Both pilots were assigned to the 555th Fighter Squadron (FS), or the “Triple Nickel,” of the 31st Fighter Wing (FW)from Aviano Air Base (AB), northeastern Italy.

It was another routine combat air patrol in which they were flying an oval pattern over northwest Bosnia. As explained by Capt. O’Grady himself in his book Basher Five-Two: The True Story of F-16 Fighter Pilot Captain Scott O’Grady, there were known fixed missile sites along much of the route. “We knew to stay far away from the Bosnian Serb’s SAM rings to the north and to the east. SAMs—surface-to-air missiles—were a definite threat to an F-16, even with our high-tech defense systems.”

But there was a mobile site that had not been spotted by intelligence units.

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