Kingsley F-15 removed from canal, water deemed safe for irrigation

  • Published
  • By 173rd Fighter Wing Public Affairs
  • 173rd Fighter Wing

A U.S. Air Force F-15D was removed from a Bureau of Reclamation irrigation canal at the south end of the runway at Kingsley Field in Klamath Falls, Ore. today, May 26, 2023. 

The aircraft was involved in a ground mishap following a routine training mission, May 14, 2023.  Upon landing the aircraft left the paved surface of the runway and came to a stop in the canal.

“This was a challenging undertaking due to all of the unforeseen contingencies that are associated with the mishap,” said Lt. Col. Victor Knill, Director of 173rd Fighter Wing Emergency Operations Center.  He noted the weight of the plane, as well as the location, being the biggest factors.   

“The land around the canal, especially on the south side, is very soft and narrow, not capable of supporting an extraction,” said Knill.  “Additionally, we had to procure a crane that was large enough to extract the water-logged aircraft.”

To assist with the removal of the aircraft, Bureau of Reclamation lowered the water in the canal to allow the Crash Damage or Disabled Aircraft Recovery Team to access the connection points on the aircraft for crane removal.

“We used a 400-ton crane located on the north side of the canal to hoist the aircraft out safely to the north side,” said Knill.  “The recovery team did a fantastic job of safely executing this challenging undertaking.”

Col. Micah Lambert, 173rd FW vice commander, also noted that the wing has been conducting routine water sampling since the mishap.  He said only trace amounts of petroleum products have been detected in the immediate vicinity of the aircraft and were contained using multiple absorbent booms, as well as hard booms to prevent any downflow of possible containments.

“Ensuring the safety of our community’s irrigation water is a top priority, and this is why have been working with the Bureau of Reclamation and the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality to prevent contamination from the mishap,” said Lambert.  “Partnering with our local and federal agencies has been key to executing this recovery safely, and effectively.”

The plane was assigned to the 173rd Fighter Wing, and there was one crew member on board.  The F-15 instructor pilot was transported to Sky Lakes Medical Center for evaluation where he was released the same day with minor injuries.

A Safety Investigation Board is currently reviewing the mishap and additional updates will be released when they are made available.