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F-16 Makes Landing In Suburban Chicago

August 17, 1986

CHICAGO (AP) _ An Air Force pilot was ″seconds from ejecting″ Saturday when his F-16 lost power 15,000 feet over a densely populated suburb, but a civilian air traffic controller guided him to a safe landing.

″He had one chance to land, and if it missed, he would have gone in a populated area,″ said Mort Edelstein, a spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration. ″It could have been a disaster.″

The plane was one of two headed for mid-air refueling over Lake Michigan when its oil pressure dropped at 23,000 feet, about 20 miles from O’Hare International Airport, Edelstein said.

The engine failed seconds later.

Pilot Vince Amato of Lafayette, Ind., was guided to an emergency landing at Glenview Naval Air Force Base by Jeff McCoy, an air traffic controller at O’Hare, Edelstein said.

″I had to tell him when to start a turn and when to stop the turn,″ McCoy said. ″He had no control really over how fast he was going to descend, so when he broke out (of the clouds) there was the runway.″

″The pilot told him, ’I’ve got one chance. Make it good. I’m only a couple seconds from ejecting,‴ Edelstein said.

″He’s going to get every award in the world,″ Edelstein said about McCoy.

The F-16s were on test flights from Carswell Air Force Base in Forth Worth, Texas.

The pilots were ordered to take the jets, manufactured by General Dynamics Corp., over Lake Michigan for refueling before returning to Texas, said Mike Filippell, a spokesman at the Glenview base.

The U.S. Air Force was investigating the cause of the failed engine, Filippell said.

The plane was not damaged and Amato was not hurt, Edelstein said.

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