HomeNewsArticle Display

CSAF presents Kolligian Trophy to Air National Guard pilot

Lt. Col Daniel Finnegan receives the Koren Kolligian Trophy certificate from Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein in the Pentagon, Arlington, Va., June 25, 2018. (U.S. Air Force photo by Wayne A. Clark)

Lt. Col Daniel Finnegan receives the Koren Kolligian Trophy certificate from Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein in the Pentagon, Arlington, Va., June 25, 2018. (U.S. Air Force photo by Wayne A. Clark)

Lt. Col Daniel Finnegan receives the Koren Kolligian Trophy from Mr. Koren Kollegin II, Koren Jr.'s Nephew and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein during a ceremony in the Pentagon,  Arlington, Va., June 25, 2018. (U.S. Air Force photo by Wayne A. Clark)

Lt. Col Daniel Finnegan receives the Koren Kolligian Trophy from Mr. Koren Kollegin II, Koren Jr.'s Nephew and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein during a ceremony in the Pentagon, Arlington, Va., June 25, 2018. (U.S. Air Force photo by Wayne A. Clark)

Lt. Col Daniel Finnegan holds the Koren Kolligian Trophy during a ceremony in the Pentagon, Arlington, Va., June 25, 2018. (U.S. Air Force photo by Wayne A. Clark)

Lt. Col Daniel Finnegan holds the Koren Kolligian Trophy during a ceremony in the Pentagon, Arlington, Va., June 25, 2018. (U.S. Air Force photo by Wayne A. Clark)

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein talks about the actions taken by Lt. Col Daniel Finnegan during the Kolligian Trophy presentation in the Pentagon, Arlington, Va., June 25, 2018. (U.S. Air Force photo by Wayne A. Clark)

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein talks about the actions taken by Lt. Col Daniel Finnegan during the Kolligian Trophy presentation in the Pentagon, Arlington, Va., June 25, 2018. (U.S. Air Force photo by Wayne A. Clark)

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein talks about the actions taken by Lt. Col Daniel Finnegan during the Kolligian Trophy presentation in the Pentagon, Arlington, Va., June 25, 2018. (U.S. Air Force photo by Wayne A. Clark)

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein talks about the actions taken by Lt. Col Daniel Finnegan during the Kolligian Trophy presentation in the Pentagon, Arlington, Va., June 25, 2018. (U.S. Air Force photo by Wayne A. Clark)

WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- Lt. Col. Daniel Finnegan, Vermont Air National Guard’s 158th Fighter Wing plans officer, was presented the Koren Kolligian Jr. Trophy by Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein at the Pentagon, June 25, 2018.

“The Kolligian Trophy is one of the most coveted of all aviation awards,” Goldfein said. “Recipients are recognized for their extraordinary skill in averting or minimizing the impact of a flight mishap.”

While deployed to Kuwait in 2017, Finnegan was performing a test flight in an F-16 Fighting Falcon when he experienced a complex in-flight emergency. Two minutes after takeoff a major electrical fire broke out in his aircraft, melting the electrical circuits and severing connections to the power generators. The aircraft lost all displays and navigation instruments.

“I remember looking out the left side, seeing what I could see for visual references, which was nothing, and then hearing the emergency power unit fire,” Finnegan said. “I looked around and the entire cockpit was blacked out.”

With no instruments and initially no radio, there was no way to know how much power was left, where he was, at what speed the aircraft was traveling or whether the landing gear was down.

Surrounded by featureless terrain and with little visibility, Finnegan resorted to searching for landmarks to find home base. He eventually found a road that guided him back. With possibly only minutes before complete battery failure, Finnegan managed to regain some radio communication with the control tower and performed emergency landing gear procedures. He flew a low pass by the control tower to confirm the landing gear was down. He also discovered the speed brakes and both rear and leading edge flaps were inoperable. Finally, he successfully executed a heavy-weight landing on “feel” alone, sparing the aircraft from further damage.

“In the F-16, when you’re slow, there’s a feeling of sinking, and when you’re fast, there’s just a feeling of going fast; it was finding that happy medium that allowed me to get the aircraft on the ground and come to a full stop,” Finnegan said.

The award was established in 1957 to memorialize 1st Lt. Koren Kolligian Jr., an Air Force pilot declared missing in the line of duty when his T-33 Shooting Star disappeared off the California coast Sept. 14, 1955.

“Our family has been honored to be invited to the Pentagon every year, meeting remarkable pilots, spending time with them and their families, sharing stories and creating friendships.” said Kolligian’s nephew, Koren Kolligian II. “[Lt.] Col. Finnegan, on behalf of our family, I offer congratulations and sincere thanks. What may have been another day in your life, we view as an act of heroism resulting from the Air Force’s commitment to education and training, and your skill, composure and resilience under pressure. This award celebrates each of those values and qualities, and reminds us all what it takes to be a pilot in the United States Air Force.”

Engage

Facebook Twitter
RT @thejointstaff: #DYK today marks the 70th anniversary of the Chairmanship? Watch recently discovered footage from the historic swearing…
This week really flew by fast. Be sure to #Follow, #Like & #RT our @AFThunderbirds for more info on the premiere a… https://t.co/5BM8N7sZTR
RT @AFSpace: Chief Towberman, AFSPC Command Chief, knows the importance of recharging, and implements it in his work-life balance. @AF_SMC
RT @AETCommand: What happened in #LasVegas...will help foster a culture of collaboration & innovation in the #USAF: the July 23 @AFWERX Fus…
RT @GenDaveGoldfein: It was absolutely impressive getting a first-hand look at the mission and innovative efforts of the 15th Wing’s Sky Wa…
.@EielsonAirForce Red Flag-Alaska is a series of @PACAF commander-directed field training exercises for U.S. & part… https://t.co/0bKkyvsVf9
RT @US_Stratcom: #24/7 #AlwaysReady 36th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron #Airmen work together to #GetErDone. #CombatReadyForc
RT @DeptofDefense: Cockpit view. Press ▶️ to ride along with the crew of an F-15 Strike Eagle from RAF Lakenheath, England 🇬🇧. The @48Figh
Exercise Agile Lightning concludes after showcasing agile operations essential to the defense of U.S. assets and p… https://t.co/vVR32kvtaP
What innovative way would you like to ease your job and the jobs of other Airmen? #InnovativeAF #USAFhttps://t.co/fKqcPisybt
RT @HAFB: Workers at #HillAFB recently installed the last of 173 new wings on A-10 Thunderbolt II aircraft, finalizing a project that began…
RT @AFWERX: HAPPENING NOW: We're hosting the first-ever @usairforce #SparkCollider. Tune in live: https://t.co/gTKMNPM9fK https://t.co/xIlJ…
RT @EdwardsAFB: Fix these broken wings – part fabrication saves Air Force time, money - https://t.co/UCvLQ0fAqy #ForTheWarfighter #TheCente
RT @GenDaveGoldfein: I don't have a solution. There is no checklist. I just know finding the answers starts with listening to our Airmen. L…
#USAF's visit to the #MotorCity is almost here. Listen in as this hometown #Airman shares her experience growing up… https://t.co/h9aeMYwOhR
RT @seattletimes: Dorothy Olsen, of University Place, was one of the members of the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs), the long-unrecog…
RT @374AirliftWing: The presence of U.S. military intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance personnel and assets further contributes t…