The Student News Site of Claudia Taylor Johnson High School

My Jag News

The Student News Site of Claudia Taylor Johnson High School

My Jag News

The Student News Site of Claudia Taylor Johnson High School

My Jag News

Freshman’s daring feat saves family, wins local accolades

Freshmans daring feat saves family, wins local accolades

By Daisy Creager |Staff Writer

It as just another beautiful Tuesday morning in Linden, North Carolina. It was perfect weather to fly. The sunshine and lack of humidity beckoned Joseph Guyton and his three grandchildren, Alex and Nathaniel Guyton, 14 and 10, and Jack Pronier, 11, on a sightseeing flight on his Gruman Cheetah 5a airplane. A pilot of 35 years and once was an Air Force pilot, Joseph knew the plane inside and out; the four had taken trips in it before. But the years of experience couldn’t help him with what happened that day.

“We took off and the plane didn’t have enough power to get over the trees at the end of the runway, so we hit those and it stalled out there and then it went nose down into the forest floor and then caught fire,” Alex said.

The rather new , with engine-only 500 hours of flight on it-was acting slow from the start. They took off with the plane that can go up to 160 mph but was only going 70; it was too late to turn back. As the plane went down, Alex rose to the occasion.

“There really wasn’t that much time to think,” Alex said. “I was just trying to think about what to do after it hit the ground.”

The model of the Gaman Cheetah Joseph was flying didn’t have doors, but sliding canopies the passengers entered through, both of which were jammed. Thankfully the plexiglass window on the right side of the cab was broken.

“I helped my cousin out first then I helped my little brother out then I got out myself then I pulled my granddad out,” Alex said.

Because of the plane’s angle after the crash, Joseph’s weight was on the harness release, preventing him from unbuckling the belt. While Nathaniel called 911, Alex helped Joseph lean in a way that allowed him to get free of the harness and get out of the plane.

“The fire department and EMS came. It took about 30 minutes to get out of the forest. It was in North Carolina near Fort Bragg, so there are really high trees,” Alex said.

Alex is described by his friends and family as a cool-as-ice, mellow kid who takes a strong interest in aviation, survival magazines and the outdoors. He has been part of boy scouts and enjoys JROTC and cross country.

“I didn’t believe [that he had pulled his family out of the plane] when I heard it because he doesn’t seem like someone who could do something like that,”  sophomore and one of Alex’s best friends, Ryan Hierholzer said

Alex was recognized by local papers in North Carolina and San Antonio, including the San Antonio Express News. It wasn’t long before Reynaldo Gutierrez, Sr, the President of the Alamo Chapter of SAFE Association, came across Alex’s story in a trade journal and decided to dig deeper.

The SAFE Association- or the Survival and Flight Equipment Association- is a non-profit international association dedicated to the preservation of human life. They also present an award each year to someone who had an outstanding achievement for the safety of people or the environment.

“Nominations must be submitted by an active member of SAFE Association, however the nominee can be anyone deemed worthy of the award,” Marcia Baldwin, the awards chair of the SAFE Association said. “Once the nominator has been confirmed as meeting the criteria for submission, the write up is then forwarded to all voting members of the SAFE Board of Directors for review. At our last meeting of the year prior to our Symposium, the SAFE Board votes in secret ballot for award recipients.”

The number of nominees and the nature of their nomination vary from year to year. SSG Matthew Kinney, the winner of the award in 2010 was a Flight Medic in Korengal Valley in Afghanistan and had previously received a silver star and a Distinguished Flying Cross for his bravery.

Thankfully, all four plane crash victims walked away with no more than some cuts and bruises and a new perspective on life.

“I feel a lot more social because I realize how easy life can end,” Alex said, “I feel a lot more confident.”

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Freshman’s daring feat saves family, wins local accolades