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Vance T-38 instructor pilots earn Air Medals

Air Medal

Maj. Gen. Patrick Doherty, left, 19th Air Force commander, presents the Air Medal to Lt. Col. Eric Schmidt, T-38 instructor pilot and chief of 71st Flying Training Wing Safety, during a ceremony Feb. 6 at Vance Air Force Base, Oklahoma. Schmidt received the medal for successfully landing his T-38C Talon jet trainer after loss of useful thrust in both engines. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Airman Zachary Heal)

Air Medal

Maj. Gen. Patrick Doherty, left, 19th Air Force commander, presents the Air Medal to Capt. Matthew Heath, 25th Flying Training Squadron T-38 instructor pilot, during a ceremony Feb. 6 at Vance Air Force Base, Oklahoma. Heath received the medal for successfully landing his T-38C Talon jet trainer after loss of useful thrust in both engines. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Airman Zachary Heal)

VANCE AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. – Two Vance instructor pilots were awarded the Air Medal by Maj. Gen. Patrick Doherty, 19th Air Force commander, during a ceremony Feb. 6 at Vance Air Force Base, Oklahoma.

Lt. Col. Eric Schmidt, 71st Flying Training Wing chief of safety, received the Air Medal for successfully landing his T-38C Talon jet trainer after loss of useful thrust in both engines.

During a training flight to Cheyenne Regional Airport, Wyoming, Nov. 18, 2017, Schmidt noticed his aircraft’s left throttle was unresponsive, resulting in a controlled descent from a cruise altitude of 33,000 feet.

After analysis of altitude and airspeed, he diverted his aircraft to the Colorado Springs Municipal Airport in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

While troubleshooting his aircraft, the number two engine flamed out. Schmidt was able to relight the engine and continue on to a successful landing at his destination with limited thrust in both engines.

On that same day, Capt. Matthew Heath, an instructor pilot with the 25th Flying Training Squadron at Vance Air Force Base, earned the Air Medal for successfully landing his T-38C after loss of useful thrust in both engines.

While attempting to accelerate the aircraft on final approach into Rick Husband Amarillo International Airport, in Amarillo, Texas, his aircraft’s throttles were unresponsive, resulting in a continuous deceleration of the aircraft.

After analysis of altitude and airspeed, Heath decided there was sufficient energy to continue the approach to landing. After successfully landing, he quickly secured both engines, preventing further damage to the aircraft.

The Air Medal is awarded for meritorious achievement while participating in aerial flight with the armed forces of the United States.