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 @AirmanMagazine: When it comes to acquisitions, the @usairforce has the need for speed. Equipping Airmen with the best technology start…
RT @GenDaveGoldfein: A distinct privilege to help unveil the F-117 exhibit, establishing this remarkable aircraft in its rightful place in…
RT @AirNatlGuard: “For me personally, the CAP and Air Guard go hand in hand. When I look back at any state active duty or state support we…
RT @GenDaveGoldfein: Honored to participate on a panel with my fellow Service Chiefs at the @ReaganInstitute. May our leaders of today & th…
It was just a childhood dream but it crescendoed into this #Airman becoming the only woman in the #AirForce to both… https://t.co/vzGjPe7Vri
RT @USAFReserve: Loadmaster first Reservist to complete USAF Weapons School Advanced Instructor Course (Story by the @403rdWing) #ReserveRe
.@secafoffical will speak about America’s footprint in space going forward at 5:45 EST. Watch live at https://t.co/aSlw5ceGJj
RT @DeptofDefense: LIVE: @EsperDoD delivers keynote remarks at the Reagan National Defense Forum. #RNDF https://t.co/ZXhuaTOQTm
Today, we help Col. Charles McGee, a Tuskegee Airman, combat veteran and American legend, celebrate 💯 sorties aroun… https://t.co/bcmcDr4IYW
December 7, 1941. #PearlHarbor and six other #military bases on the Hawaiian island of Oahu were attacked, beginnin… https://t.co/4GvB8yPpGV
RT @US_TRANSCOM: Take a look at @usairforce Airmen assigned to the @109thAW using their ski-equipped C-130s to deliver supplies to the Arct…
RT @GenDaveGoldfein: Thank you to Gen CQ Brown & the @PACAF team for the outstanding work organizing one of largest gatherings of Pacific A…
RT @DeptofDefense: Flying side by side gets the mission done. @usairforce and @RoyalAirForce participated in exercise Point Blank with @NAT
RT @HQUSAFEPA: Getting to see a chaplain in a remote location is a #blessing. Archbishop of U.S. Military Services Timothy Broglio recently…
RT @AFWERX: Did you catch @EdwardsAFB’s first-ever @TEDx event? There’s no doubt their theme, “Laying the Foundation for Tomorrow’s Innovat…
RT @DeptofDefense: Press ▶️ to get motivated by watching this video of exercise #MobilityGuardian19, Air Mobility Command's largest full-sp…
.@SecAFOfficial Barbara Barrett recently testified to the #SenateArmedServicesCommittee on privatized #military hou… https://t.co/XktLL4cXBB
RT @US_Stratcom: Whether it’s a defender, missile alert facility manager or a missileer, everyone is vital to the intercontinental ballisti…
RT @AFResearchLab: The @AF_SBIR_STTR team alongside the Wright Brothers Institute hosted the first @usairforce Technology Executive Office…