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Pilot’s quick thinking, proficiency earn Kolligian Trophy

  • Published
  • Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David W. Allvin presented the 2022 Koren Kolligian Jr. Trophy to Maj. Brady J. Augustin, during a ceremony at the Pentagon Feb. 7. 

The award is named after 1st Lt. Koren Kolligian Jr., an Air Force pilot who was declared missing when his T-33 Shooting Star disappeared off the California coast Sept. 14, 1955. Presented annually, the Koren Kolligian Jr. Trophy is the only individual flight safety award personally presented by the CSAF.

“Our family has been honored to be invited to the Pentagon to attend every ceremony since the awards inception in 1958,” said Kyle Anderson, a member of the Kolligian family. “What may have seemed like any other day in your [Augustin’s] life, we view as an act of heroism resulting from the Air Force’s commitment to education, training and safety — and your skill, composure, and resilience under pressure.” 

In March 2022, while supporting operations for U.S. Air Forces Europe, Augustin, then an F-16 instructor pilot with the 31st Operations Support Squadron at Aviano Air Base, Italy, experienced an incident during takeoff in a combat-configured F-16CM Fighting Falcon. During the takeoff, he felt the aircraft settle to the left on the runway. Deciding he was past takeoff abort speed, he determined the best course of action was to complete the takeoff and then assess the situation. 

Once at a high key of 10,000 feet, Augustin coordinated with multiple agencies to conduct a conference hotel call pertaining to what he thought was a blown tire. All parties determined the correct course of action was to conduct a landing using an approach end cable arrestment. However, while Augustin was preparing for the landing, the airfield management team discovered a separated left, main landing wheel on the runway during a foreign object debris sweep. 

Augustin was directed to abort his approach and perform a low pass in front of the tower to provide a visual of his landing gear. The low pass confirmed his left main landing wheel had completely separated from the aircraft. 

In coordination with key personnel, Augustin was provided the two options: conduct a controlled ejection or conduct a gear-up landing. With a low fuel state complicating an already harrowing matter, he accepted the risk to land gear-up. The aircraft touched down just feet beyond the second approach end cable. Once it came to a stop, Augustin raised the canopy and safely egressed. 

 “It was an incredibly unusual circumstance that had a lot of different ways that it could have gone poorly quickly,” said Augustin. “But due to the exceptional actions by the team at Aviano Air Base in Italy, we were able to salvage [it into] a somewhat normal crash landing and save an airplane, and we all made it home that night.” 

Allvin lauded Augustin for his calculated actions in the face of danger.

“Maj. Augustin showed incredible skill and ingenuity in a difficult and dangerous situation,” Allvin said. “He was calm, cool, and collected – exactly what we have come to expect from our aviators and all the Airmen who have earned the prestigious Kolligian Trophy.”