Juvat pilots garner Aviation Well Done Awards
KIRTLAND AIR FORCE BASE, N.M -- Two Airmen recently received the Aviation Safety Well Done Award for outstanding airmanship or support to aircrew that prevented or reduced the impact of a serious flight mishap.
On Oct. 5, 2011, Capts. Christopher Bernardo and Richard Smeeding, 80th Fighter Squadron, 8th Fighter Wing, Kunsan Air Base, Korea, distinguished themselves through superior airmanship and flight mutual support by safely recovering an F-16 following critical aircraft malfunction.
Five hours into a transoceanic deployment sortie, Smeeding received cockpit indications of a severe engine oil system malfunction.
He pointed the aircraft toward Eareckson Air Station, Shemya Island, Alaska, the nearest suitable divert location. To maintain flight mutual support, Bernardo assumed the role of safety chase and began backing up Smeeding as they proceeded to the divert field.
Smeeding positioned the aircraft for a simulated flameout landing while Bernardo obtained weather information at Eareckson. When they realized that deteriorating weather made arrival at Eareckson an unsuitable option, they readjusted their plan to safely recover the aircraft. Smeeding conducted a go-around, jettisoned the external fuel tanks, and flew a perfect instrument approach in marginal weather to safely land the aircraft.
Nominations for the Aviation Well Done Award are submitted through the safety offices of major commands, direct reporting units, field operating agencies and Air Staff agencies to the Air Force Safety Center and may be submitted within a six-month period of an event in which an Airman makes a significant contribution to mishap prevention. Recipients are approved by Air Force Chief of Safety.