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Video: Looking back on Alaska AWACS crash, 20 years later

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  • Updated: May 31, 2016
  • Published September 14, 2015

Harry Kieling spent hundreds of hours inside an AWACS aircraft. As a former fighter pilot, Kieling, a retired Air Force colonel, flew aboard the radar-and-control aircraft as a battle commander -- deciding if and when military aircraft would intercept and handle Russian incursions into U.S. airspace. Kieling, soon to retire, had scheduled one of his final flights for the Yukla 27 mission, an AWACS training flight set to take off from Anchorage's Elmendorf Air Force Base on Sept. 22, 1995.

But at the last minute, Kieling changed his mind and traveled to Arizona for a flight certification. It was a decision that saved his life, as Yukla 27 hit a flock of geese on takeoff and plummeted to the ground, killing all 24 people aboard. Hear Kieling -- now the Alaska director of the Office of Aviation Services under the U.S. Department of the Interior -- tell the story in his own words, and reflect on the upcoming 20th anniversary of the crash.

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