U-2 Pilot Presented Kolligian Trophy

Lt. Col. Joseph Santucci, 99th Reconnaissance Squadron commander at Beale AFB, Calif., received the Koren Kolligian Jr. Trophy, the Air Force’s top flight safety award, from Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz during a June 1 ceremony in the Pentagon. Santucci was honored for safely landing his U-2 reconnaissance aircraft during a night training mission in February 2009 following an in-flight emergency that left him struggling to keep the U-2’s nose up and flying. “This is not just about me and that night, but about the amazing skills required by our airmen every day” to return “to terra firma regardless of the challenges of weather, technology, or enemy,” said Santucci upon receiving the award. Schwartz said airmen like Santucci possess “airmanship, extraordinary skill, alertness, ingenuity . . . and even a touch of luck.” (SAF/PA report by TSgt. Amaani Lyle)