While it might be a cliché that any landing you can walk away from is a good landing, in the world of military aviation, that often holds true. Happily, the U.S. Air Force F-15 Eagle pilot involved in the recent mishap at Kingsley Field in Klamath Falls, Oregon, got out of their stricken jet, but the fighter could hardly have ended up in a less dignified position.
An official image of the F-15D involved in this mishap, seen at the top of this story, has now been released. New details about the incident can also be found in the update at the bottom of this story.
As seen in the accompanying photo, the source of which currently remains unclear to us, the two-seat F-15D took a bath in what appears to be a fairly deep canal that runs along the southern end of Kingsley Field. Adding insult to injury, the Eagle’s nose speared into the bank of the canal.
A statement from the 173rd Fighter Wing Public Affairs Staff reveals that the accident, which occurred yesterday, at approximately 3:15 P.M. local time, involved the F-15 departing the runway while landing. The two-seater, which had a single pilot in the cockpit, had been returning to Kingsley Field following a routine training mission. Kingsley Field is the home base of the 173rd Fighter Wing, and the current and only F-15C/D schoolhouse in the U.S. Air Force.
“The pilot exited the aircraft safely and has been transported to SkyLakes Medical Center as a precaution and for evaluation,” the statement continued. “A board of officers will investigate the accident.”
Interestingly, the pilot chose not to eject from the F-15, or perhaps was unable to do so, but was able to egress the cockpit once the jet had settled in its watery hole. In the photo above, the cockpit canopy is clearly seen cranked in its open position.
An earlier tweet from the 173rd Fighter Wing stated that the F-15 “experienced an inflight emergency” before exiting the runway. This point is not mentioned in the subsequent statement from the wing, although it’s not evident at this stage why that might have been omitted.
With most of the airframe obscured by the water, it’s also hard to see the extent of the damage inflicted on it, other than the crumpled nose. It might be expected that the landing gear and undersides of the jet will have taken the hardest punishment, although it remains unclear if it will be possible to repair this aircraft. Overall, though, fighter jets have been returned to service from seemingly worse predicaments, but that is probably unlikely to occur in this case.
After all, the F-15C/D jets at Kingsley Field have been slated to be replaced by the F-15EX. In fact, the first two Air Force units planned to get the Eagle II are both part of the Oregon Air National Guard, although this might still be subject to delay. As well as the 173rd Fighter Wing, the new jets are scheduled to be delivered to the 142nd Fighter Wing at Portland Air National Guard Base.
We will update this story once additional details are provided.
UPDATE 6:30 P.M. EST:
The 173rd Fighter Wing has now provided an update on yesterday's mishap, as well as an official image of the F-15D involved, which is now seen at the top of the story. The jet has been surrounded by absorbent booms to help mitigate any potential leaks of fuel or other fluids into the irrigation canal, which is managed by the Bureau of Reclamation.
"We don’t believe the aircraft is leaking any petroleum products based on our initial assessment of the water in the canal," Col. Micah Lambert, Vice Commander of the 173rd, said in a statement. "Minimizing the environmental impact is one of our main priorities; we have taken precautionary measures and placed absorbent booms around the aircraft to prevent the flow of fuel, or other substances, downstream in the event there is a leakage."
"Lambert also said the wing is conducting ongoing water sampling to detect if there is a presence of petroleum products in the water," according to the 173rd's full press release.
The pilot flying the F-15D at the time, who has not been named, but has now been identified as an instructor, has since been released from Sky Lakes Medical Center with unspecified "minor injuries."
"We are so grateful that our pilot was able to walk away from this mishap," Col. Lambert said. "Our Team Kingsley responders acted quickly and with professionalism thanks to the extensive training and safety mindset of our team."
"Lambert noted that the wing is partnering with local authorities and federal agencies, to include the Bureau of Reclamation, to ensure the aircraft is safely removed from the canal," the 173rd's release added.
Contact the author: email@example.com