April 20, 2009 (by Lieven Dewitte) - A U.S. F-16 pilot who landed his jet despite losing feeling in his feet and hands is one of the recipients of the 2008 Air Force safety awards.
Maj. Booth Johnston of the Texas Air National Guard's 111th Reconnaissance Squadron earned the Lt. Koren Kolligian Trophy recognizing outstanding airmanship by an aircrew member.
While Major Johnston was engaged in F-16C "one-v-one" basic fighter maneuvers training, he sustained a severe back injury during a 9-G maneuver. He continued to safely fly his F-16C even as his physical condition degraded and he lost feeling in his hands and feet
"We're grateful for the hard work of these award-winning individuals and organizations, and all Air Force safety professionals throughout the service," said Maj. Gen. Frederick F. Roggero, Air Force chief of safety. "Your commitment to protect the lives of our Airmen and safeguard our resources is exactly what the Air Force needs to deliver outstanding support to today's joint fight."
In 2007, another F-16 pilot received the Lt. Koren Kolligian Trophy for an incident in which he had a stroke while flying an F-16 Fighting Falcon out of Buckley Air Force Base, Colo. Lt. Col. Peter Byrne kept his jet aloft for another 90 minutes before returning to Buckley.