Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David W. Allvin speaks with Maj. Brady Augustin and Adelaide Augustin after he was awarded the 2022 Koren Kolligian, Jr. Trophy during a ceremony at the Pentagon in Arlington, Va., Feb. 7, 2024.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Eric Dietrich)

Former Sleepy Eye resident Brady Augustin, now an Air Force officer and pilot, received an award on Feb. 7 for safely landing a fighter plane he was piloting that could have crashed over a populated area.

According to the U.S. Air Force Office of Public Affairs, in March 2022, Augustin, based at Aviano Air Base in Italy, was taking off in a F-16 when felt the aircraft settle to the left on the runway. While consulting with ground personnel, the airfield management team discovered a separated left main landing wheel on the runway.

Personnel on the ground recommended two options: a controlled ejection or a gear-up landing. With his fuel running low, Augustin chose to land gear-up. The aircraft touched down just feet beyond the second approach end cable. Once it came to a stop, Augustin raised the canopy and safely left the plane.

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David W. Allvin presented the 2022 Koren Kolligian Jr. Trophy to Maj. Brady J. Augustin, during a ceremony at the Pentagon Feb. 7. “Maj. 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.”

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