KIRTLAND AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. -- Two Airmen and two squadron crews recently received Aviation Safety Well Done Awards, presented for outstanding airmanship or support to aircrew that prevented or reduced the impact of a serious flight mishap.
Three Airmen received Ground Safety Well Done Awards, presented in recognition of non-safety Airmen who make a significant contribution that affects overall mishap prevention activities in ground and weapons safety.
Nominations for the Aviation and Ground Safety Well Done Awards 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. Recipients are approved by the Air Force chief of safety.
Following are the names of recent recipients of the two awards and citation excerpts describing the performance that contributed to the Air Force Mishap Prevention Program.
Aviation Safety Well Done Award
Capt. Alexander Goldfein, 67th Fighter Squadron, 18th Wing, Kadena Air Base, Japan - On Nov. 2, 2011, Goldfein experienced a landing gear malfunction during a two-ship training mission. While in a descent at 370 knots, the red light in the landing gear handle illuminated with the landing gear extension speed of 250 knots. At 320 knots, the landing gear warning tone sounded and the right main landing gear indicated down and locked. Goldfein used cockpit resource management to investigate and identify the malfunction. He verified the landing gear circuit breaker was out while his chase visually confirmed the right main landing gear was extended with the forward main gear door open. He executed applicable portions of several landing gear malfunction checklists to establish a safe landing gear configuration. He attempted to jettison fuel, but continual circuit breaker faults forced him to discontinue the effort. He declared an emergency and flew a flawless straight-in approach. His actions minimized aircraft damage, ensured his personal safety and the recovery of a combat asset.
Capt. Christopher Uecker, 55th Fighter Squadron, 20th Operations Group, 20th Fighter Wing, Shaw AFB, S.C. - While conducting air refueling operations off the coast of Libya on Oct. 18, 2011, in support of an Operation Unified Protector combat mission, Uecker's wingman reported an aircraft hydraulic problem. Uecker disconnected, visually inspected his wingman's aircraft and noted hydraulic fluid covering the back half. Uecker directed his flight to Sicily, declared an emergency, passed his wingman the lead, performed checklist operations and discussed heavyweight landing techniques. After ensuring his flight was pointed to the nearest airfield and deconflicted from air-to-air refueling tracks and other transiting fighter aircraft, Uecker coordinated with the appropriate agencies to facilitate their unexpected arrival at Sigonella AB, Italy, and to allocate other assets to complete their assigned mission. Uecker chased his wingman through a straight-in approach and combat-loaded heavyweight landing on an 8,000-foot runway. His systems knowledge, superior flying skills and high situational awareness preserved a $25 million combat Air force asset.
Crew of Rider 07: Capt. Robert Humphries, 1st Lt. Matthew Walker, Staff Sgt. Alex Accica, Staff Sgt. Michael Wright, Senior Airman Blake Carter, Senior Airman Luis Velasquez and Airman 1st Class Miguel Novoa, 54th Helicopter Squadron, Minot AFB, N.D. -- The crew completed a tactical assault training sortie with the crew of Rider 08 on June 7, 2011. They proceeded to conduct a single-ship ICBM security operation when their aircraft experienced a torque split with the No. 1 engine torque rising to 55 percent and the No. 2 engine torque dropping to 0 percent. The crew maintained aircraft control by reducing the collective to bring the rotor revolutions per minute within the limits 97 to 100 percent and analyzed the situation as a No. 2 engine low-side fuel control malfunction. Rider 07 communicated the malfunction to Rider 08, who rejoined Rider 07 and stated that Rider 07's aircraft was spraying fuel from the No. 2 engine. They recommended the copilot fly while the aircraft commander and flight engineer run the fuel control actuation checklist and place the fuel control in manual mode. Rider 07 then began a normal approach to an open field as the copilot lowered the collective No. 2 torque and continued the approach to a hover and touchdown without incident, saving the aircraft and the lives of eight crew members.
Crew of Hammer 14: Maj. Daniel Spier and Capt. William Johnson, 492nd Fighter Squadron, Royal Air Force Lakenheath, U.K. - On Nov. 2, 2011, while traveling from Seymour Johnson AFB, N.C., to Eglin AFB, Fla., in support of a U.S. Central Command weapon system evaluation program, the crew's F-15E experienced a rapid decompression, total electrical failure, hydraulic failure and a critical engine malfunction. While troubleshooting the compounding emergencies without radio communication or cockpit intercom, the crew successfully dead-reckoned the aircraft 80 nautical miles, without back-up instruments, to Charleston AFB, S.C. The crew's coordination and prioritization in handling multiple system failures prevented injury and led to the safe recovery of a $54 million combat asset.
Ground Safety Well Done Award
Staff Sgt. Derrick J. Gordon, 2nd Munitions Squadron, 2nd Maintenance Group, 2nd Bomb Wing, Barksdale AFB, La. - Gordon displayed extraordinary leadership during a ground emergency involving a 2-acre grass fire that spread over an earth-covered storage structure containing explosives. After receiving notification of the fire on Sept. 24, 2011, he directed the evacuation of three people who were attempting to fight the fire. Gordon executed emergency action checklist procedures by accurately reporting the emergency to the fire department along with 10 other base agencies. His adherence to explosive safety standards and his decisive actions enabled the safe and expeditious evacuation of 75 technicians from the area and an additional 150 people from an auditorium. Gordon directed seven responding fire trucks, directly contributing to a 6-minute response time to the scene. His performance resulted in the safety of 225 people and termination of the ground emergency in 1 hour and 13 minutes, contributing to containment of the fire and ensuring the safety of 1.2 million pounds of net explosive weight.
Airman 1st Class Nathan J. Roper, 2nd Munitions Squadron, 2nd Maintenance Group, 2nd Bomb Wing, Barksdale AFB, La. - Roper initiated the first response to a raging grass fire within the 917th Conventional Storage Area on Aug. 24, 2011. He ran to the scene while alerting others within the potential disaster area. His actions generated additional emergency response from those in the immediate area who rushed to the scene with fire extinguishers. While the near waist-high flames burned an area of approximately 37 feet long and 7 feet wide, his actions enabled emergency responders to quickly engage and put out the fire. His actions prevented the potential loss and destruction of multiple munitions structures as well as assets valued in excess of $22.5 million. By upholding the Air Force core values, Roper saved Air Force equipment and property, as well as the lives of fellow Airmen, had the fire reached inhabited or explosive-laden buildings.
Staff Sgt. Robert Wilson, 380th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, 380th Air Expeditionary Group, 380th Air Expeditionary Wing, Al Dhafra AB, United Arab Emirates - Wilson found a loose self-locking nut on the main landing gear brake stack pressure plate while performing a main landing gear tire change on a U-2 on Nov. 20, 2011. He changed the wheel brake assembly after finding no technical order guidance for the discrepancy. He noted the same problem three times over a period of a month; the last incident occurring Jan. 24. He alerted his supervisor and contracting representative about the trend, and the contractor issued a fleet-wide recall of all main landing gear brake assemblies. Wilson's findings also led to a technical order change that requires an in-progress inspection for all brake pressure plate self-locking nuts prior to installing the main landing gear wheel and tire - the first major modification of the U-2 braking system since the U-2R model was delivered to the U.S. Air Force in 1968.