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Pilot Safety Award of Distinction.

Shortly after takeoff, Capt Miller experienced an "engine afterburner fail" indication accompanied by less than normal thrust. Capt Miller began an immediate climb and coordinated to use the airspace above the airfield to further analyze the situation. Due to his location over a densely populated area and his ability to climb, though at a slower than normal rate, Capt Miller decided to retain his external stores. After attaining gliding distance to the airfield, Capt Miller was able to determine that the engine nozzle was not responding to changes in throttle setting. After checking engine thrust from idle to full military power, Capt Miller decided that his engine performance was degraded but adequate for landing. Capt Miller considered flying a steep simulated flameout approach, but opted for a normal approach because of reduced visual cues due to darkness. Capt Miller flew a flawless approach and landing despite the reduced thrust and his heavy fuel load. Upon landing, the nozzle was jarred loose from its stuck position and became full closed. This nozzle change caused Capt Miller to experience greater than normal idle thrust. Capt Miller was able to safely stop the aircraft on the runway despite this sudden change in engine performance. Post flight inspection of the engine revealed that it had switched in flight to a lower thrust hybrid mode and that binding in the nozzle area had further reduced the available thrust. Capt Miller's exceptional airmanship led to the safe recovery of a $25 million combat asset.

Capt Robert Miller

4th Fighter Squadron

388th Fighter Wing

Hill AFB, Utah

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Publication:Combat Edge
Article Type:Brief article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 1, 2007
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