Small fishing boat plays big role in aviators’ rescue

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — Three fisherman came to the rescue of Naval aviators off the coast of North Carolina Thursday morning. Something went wrong during a Navy training mission and two F/A-18F Super Hornets crashed into the water below

All four of the aviators on board survived, and a recreational boat made a big difference in the immediate moments after the crash.

10 On Your Side’s Liz Kilmer spoke exclusively to Rob Schutrumpf, one of the men on the “Pammy,” who came to the rescue.

“There was something that looked like a wing or a tail burning and that’s kind of what clued us in to where they were before the helicopter got here,” he said.

Schutrumpf was with friends on his boat traveling from Cape Hatteras to Virginia Beach and saw the aftermath of the crash in the water. He and his friends sailed over to the two closest aviators and pulled them to safety.

WAVY Photo
WAVY Photo

“I don’t know what in the world we would have done if those guys had been hurt,” Schutrumpf says. “So we just backed the boat up to them, opened the tuna door and they climbed in the tuna door with all of the gear and that was it.”

Schutrumpf says when he came to help them, they seemed OK, just in shock.

“Remarkable… how lucky for them guys to be alive and well,” says Schutrumpf.

He believes the rescue was a matter of being “at the right place at the right time.” The Richmond man and his friends had left from Florida over the weekend on a journey to Rudee Inlet in Virginia Beach.

When 10 On Your Side asked Schutrumpf if he feels like a hero, he says he was just doing what any fisherman would have done.

“It’s just normal, you know, people in the water help people in the water and that’s what we did,” he said. “I hope they’re all okay, and that’s all that matters.”

As Schutrumpf pulled the two aviators from the water, the Coast Guard was rescuing the other two. All four were flown by the Coast Guard to the hospital.

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