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Pilot safety. (Monthly Award Winners).

Award of Distinction

On Jan. 11, 2003, Maj Geary "General" Padden was the flight lead of an F-16 ADF adversary element during a 4v2 defensive counter air flight lead upgrade ride in support of the 179th Fighter Squadron, Minnesota Air National Guard. After three engagements, the flight "Fenced Out," rejoined, and headed for a post attack air-to-air refueling. En route to the tanker, Maj Padden noticed that his engine oil pressure did not increase with an increase in throttle movement. The F-16A does not have a Lube Low caution light, so the lack of increasing oil pressure represented a 50 percent or greater loss of oil. Maj Padden immediately declared an emergency and pointed the aircraft toward the nearest possible divert base, Duluth, Minnesota, which was 52 nautical miles to the west. Maj Padden directed his wingman to rejoin and accomplish a Battle Damage Check, which confirmed oil was running off the right underside of the fuselage. With temperatures at zero degrees Fahrenheit, a wind chill at -20 degrees Fahrenheit and fac ing the possibility of having to eject over the icy waters of Lake Superior, Maj Padden kept his aircraft within gliding distance of land and executed flawless checklist procedures. The weather at Duluth was reported as overcast, 6 miles visibility and blowing snow. Maj Padden was forced to fly a flameout penetration through the weather in the event of possible engine seizure. Maj Padden maneuvered his aircraft to intercept the localizer approach to the active runway. Ensuring that a 1:1 glide ratio had been established, Maj Padden flew the steeper than normal approach perfectly. Maj Padden broke out of the weather in perfect alignment, visually acquired the runway at 3.5 miles and executed a textbook landing. Upon post flight inspection, the aircraft had lost 75 percent of its oil through the chip detector. It was also determined that it was only minutes until the rest of the oil would have been completely gone. Maj Padden's outstanding systems knowledge, keen situational awareness, and superior airmanship p revented the potential loss of two valuable combat assets: Maj Padden and his aircraft.

Maj Geary L. Padden, 148th Fighter Wing, Duluth, Minnesota
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Title Annotation:military safety
Publication:Combat Edge
Geographic Code:1U4MN
Date:Jun 1, 2003
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