Laughlin Pilot Receives Aviation Safety Award

Lt. Col. William Lee, a functional check flight branch chief with the 96th Flying Training Squadron at Laughlin AFB, Texas, received the Air Force’s top aviation safety award. Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh presented Lee with the Koren Kolligian Jr. Trophy during an Oct. 8 Pentagon ceremony for his actions during a March 2013 solo T-38C Talon functional check flight. When the rear cockpit multi-function display dislocated and lodged itself between the control stick and the instrument panel during that flight, the aircraft pitched upward and rolled to the left. Lee maintained control and landed the plane with minimal controls. “This year’s honoree, Lt. Col. William Lee, truly showcases the precision, professionalism, and performance that embody the spirit of Koren Kolligian,” said Koren Kolligian II, a nephew of Kolligian, during the ceremony. The trophy is presented annually to an airman who “shows extraordinary skill, alertness, ingenuity, or proficiency in averting or minimizing the seriousness of a flight mishap.” 1st Lt. Koren Kolligian Jr. was “an Air Force pilot declared missing in the line of duty when his T-33 Shooting Star disappeared off the coast of California in 1955,” according to an Air Force release.