‘Made it home’

SE native receives USAF flight safety honor for landing F-16 without landing gear

U.S. Air Force photo by Eric Dietrich U.S. Air Force Maj. Brady Augustin, right, receives the 2022 Koren Kolligian Jr. Trophy from Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David W. Allvin at the Pentagon, Arlington, Va. Feb. 7. The flight safety award recognized Augustin’s outstanding feat of airmanship for safely performing a gear-up landing in his F-16 Fighting Falcon after losing landing gear.

ARLINGTON, Va. — A 2005 Sleepy Eye High School graduate and 2009 United States Air Force Academy cadet was recently honored at the Pentagon for piloting an F-16 to a gear-up landing in Italy.

Maj. Brady Augustin, the son of Donna Augustin of Sleepy Eye and Kent and Eileen Augustin of Comfrey received the 2022 Koren Kolligan Jr. Trophy Feb. 7 for an incident in Italy in March 2022 from Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David W. Allvin.

Augustin received the award for his calculated actions in the face of danger as an F-16 instructor pilot supporting operations for U.S. Air Forces Europe in March 2022.

The trophy is the only individual flight safety award personally presented by the Air Force Chief of Staff.

The award is named after Air force 1st Lt. Koren Kolligian who Jr. was declared missing when his T-33 Shooting Star disappeared off the California coast Sept. 14, 1955.

During takeoff, Augustin 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 assess the situation.

At 10,000 feet, Augustin conducted a conference call pertaining to what he thought was a blown tire. All parties determined the correct course of action was to land using an approach end cable arrestment.

Preparing to land, the airfield management team discovered a separated left, main landing to provide a visual of his landing gear. The low pass confirmed his left main landing wheel had completely separated from the aircraft.

Augustin was provided two options: conduct a controlled ejection or a gear-up landing. With low fuel, he accepted the risk to land gear-up.

The aircraft touched own just feet beyond the second approach end cable. After coming to a stop, Augustin raised the canopy and safely climbed out of the F-16.

“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, save an airplane, and we made it home that night.”

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

“Major 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.”

Donna Augustin commented on her son and his award.

“Brady has put forth great effort in the U.S. Air Force since high school and has always had the desire to fly. His passion and dedication have paid off in his extremely risky career. His wife Adelaide, has been a great support for him during all his military endeavors,” said Augustin.

“We have the U.S. Air Force and the Kolligian family to thank for the generous grace and honor they have presented with this prestigious safety award to one pilot annually after losing Koren Kolligian Jr. in 1955. It was a unique experience to be invited to the Pentagon for this incredible ceremony,” she added.

(The Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs contributed to this story).


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