By Gerald McGill

October 19th 2012   9:15am

The U.S. Air Force yesterday released limited details of a fatal accident which took place last Thursday in Pensacola Bay, Florida.  Major Garrett Wayne Knowlan, age 32, a graduate of the Air Force Academy and of the Air Force Test Pilot School at Edwards Air Force Base in California was struck by a small boat while in the water practicing water survival skills such as signaling rescue aircraft and life raft procedures.

The identity of the boat owner or operator was not released.

The standard training procedure is for trainees to be launched from a boat while attached to a parasail to a height of about 200 feet and then are allowed to drop into the water to simulate a parachute drop.  After going through their training procedures they are picked up by small boats and returned to Pensacola Naval Air Station where the Air Force training program is based.

The survival training program began in 1994 and has trained thousands of aviators but this was the first fatality.

Major Knowlan, who was a native of Jackson, Missouri, is survived by his wife Megan Marie Shipley Knowlan and their two sons.  Funeral services are tentatively scheduled for tomorrow in his home town.

More about Maritime Law.

Gerald McGill is a graduate of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy and a former Commanding Officer of two Coast Guard Cutters

Farron Cousins is the executive editor of The Trial Lawyer magazine and a contributing writer at He is the co-host / guest host for Ring of Fire Radio. His writings have appeared on Alternet, Truthout, and The Huffington Post. Farron received his bachelor's degree in Political Science from the University of West Florida in 2005 and became a member of American MENSA in 2009. Follow him on Twitter @farronbalanced