Instructor Pilot Receives Top Flight Safety Award

Maj. Douglas Witmer, who is serving on an officer exchange as an instructor pilot with the Argentine air force, received the 2013 Koren Kolligian Jr. Trophy, the service’s annual award recognizing outstanding airmanship. Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh presented Witmer with the trophy during a Nov. 14 ceremony at the Pentagon, according to a service release. “He has 3,000 flying hours, one of them is in an aircraft with one wing,” said Welsh in discussing the harrowing Aug. 10, 2012, flight during which Witmer distinguished himself. Witmer was flying as part of a six-ship AT-63 Pampa formation at the Centennial Celebration of Argentine School of Aviation in Cordoba, when one of his wingmen made an overly aggressive maneuver, causing another Pampa to slam into Witmer’s airplane, according to the release. Despite losing 80 percent of his left wing, Witmer was able to maintain aircraft control and divert the airplane away from a nearby crowd of spectators and the Pampa formation. He then was able to bring the aircraft to a nearby airport for landing. “I really and truly appreciate this honor,” said Witmer. (Washington, D.C., report by SSgt. David Salanitri)