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Air National Guard F-15D veers off runway into irrigation canal in Oregon

U.S. Air Force uniform. (U.S. Air National Guard photo illustration by Tech. Sgt. Daniel Ter Haar)
May 19, 2023

The Air Force has released more information regarding the mishap that ended with an F-15D coming to stop in an irrigation canal after leaving a Klamath Falls runway in Oregon on Monday.

The F-15D plane, assigned to the 173rd Fighter Wing, was only carrying one pilot. The pilot was able to exit the plane safely and received precautionary treatment at Sky Lakes Medical Center before being released with minor injuries. 

According to Central Oregon Daily News, Col. Micah Lambert, 173rd Fighter Wing Vice Commander, said the cause of the crash remained under investigation, but the primary concern was the well-being of the pilot. 

“We are so grateful that our pilot was able to walk away from this mishap. Out Team Kingsley responders acted quickly and with professionalism thanks to the extensive training and safety mindset of our team,” Lambert said

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According to a press release, the plane was returning from a routine training mission. Upon landing, the plane left the paved runway before skidding into the canal. 

Initial inspection did not indicate that any fuel or petroleum products from the plane had entered the canal following the crash; however, the Air Force placed absorbent blooms around the aircraft to prevent potential contamination. Removal of the airplane is being conducted through a collaboration between the Air Force, state and local agencies and the Bureau of Reclamation. 

“Minimizing the environmental impact is one of our main priorities,” Lambert said. Lambert confirmed that ongoing water sampling was being conducted to monitor the water for the presence of petroleum.  

Jim Hendren, a retired Air Force Colonel and F-15 fighter pilot veteran, posted a photo of the crash to his Twitter account. 

The incident follows the crash of an F-16 Fighter Falcon, assigned to the 8th Fighter Wing at Kunsan Air Base, South Korea, on May 6. 

The pilot in that accident was able to safely eject from the plane and was transported to Osan Air Force Base Urgent Care for treatment and was listed as stable. 

The jet caught fire after crashing; however, no civilian injuries were reported. 

The Air Force employs an Interim Safety Board (SIB), appointed by nearby commanders, to investigate. 

The SIB inspects and analyzes all information available regarding mishaps and provides findings and recommendations to the convening authorities. Recommendations to prevent future accidents include procedural changes, aircraft overhauls and maintenance standard changes.