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Pilot safety: award of distinction.

On 7 June 2004, Capt Hank McKibban displayed superb airmanship and flying ability in handling an in-flight F-16 engine emergency. Capt McKibban (call sign Lord 1) led a 4-ship of F-16s from Cannon Air Force Base on a defensive counter air mission. During the first ops check on departure, Lord 1 discovered the oil pressure was fluctuating. Capt McKibban assessed the oil pressure to be within operating limits and decided to monitor the engine instruments while continuing the departure. He climbed the aircraft to 15,000' MSL in accordance with the departure procedure and slowed to 300 KIAS. Shortly after entering the military operations area (approximately 40 nm from Cannon Air Force Base), Lord 1 received an ENGINE LUBE LOW warning. Capt McKibban initiated an immediate left turn direct Cannon, selected afterburner, and began climbing to achieve a one-to-one glide ratio to home base. He cleared #3 to a chase position for mutual support and declared an emergency. After 20 seconds of afterburner use, the afterburner failed and the nozzle fully closed due to oil loss. Capt McKibban continued to climb in military power to achieve parameters for a flameout approach and landing. At this point the aircraft fuel weight was approximately 9,500 pounds, well above a safe landing weight on a 10,000' runway at 4,300' elevation. Capt McKibban expertly guided his aircraft south of the airfield and worked together with Lord 3 to emergency jettison two external fuel tanks over an unpopulated area. Capt McKibban initiated a left turn and selected idle power after achieving proper flameout landing parameters. He turned on the emergency power unit (EPU) in anticipation of engine seizure and lowered the landing gear while performing the approach. On short final Capt McKibban selected full speed brakes and landed the aircraft approximately 800' down the runway at 185 KIAS. Realizing his idle thrust was higher than normal due to the fully closed nozzle; he lowered the tail-hook and successfully engaged the departure-end cable at 90 KIAS. Capt McKibban's timely decisions and disciplined actions prevented a Class A mishap and saved the Air Force a valuable combat asset.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Capt William H. McKibban, 522nd Fighter Sqdn.,

27th Fighter Wing, Cannon AFB, New Mexico
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Title Annotation:MONTHLY AWARD WINNERS; William H. McKibban
Author:McKibban, William H.
Publication:Combat Edge
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Nov 1, 2004
Words:370
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