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Air Force F-15 takes an accidental bath in drainage canal after botched landing

Splish splash!
Jared Keller Avatar
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A U.S. Air Force F-15D assigned to the 173rd Fighter Wing sits in a Bureau of Reclamation canal on the south side of the runway following a mishap landing at Kingsley Field in Klamath Falls, Oregon May 15, 2023. Absorbent booms surround the aircraft as precaution against the leakage of fuel or other substances. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Jefferson Thompson)

An Air Force F-15 Eagle fighter jet ended up taking an accidental bath in a drainage canal after leaving the runway during landing on Tuesday, the service announced.

The F-15D, assigned to the Oregon Air National Guard’s 173rd Fighter Wing, was returning to its home base Kingsley Field Air National Guard Base in Klamath Falls, Oregon following a routine training mission, according to a press release from the wing.

After landing, the aircraft “departed the runway” and stopped in an irrigation canal belonging to the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation — part of the Department of the Interior that oversees water resource management — that bordered the south end of the runway, according to the wing.

The F-15 instructor pilot on board exited the aircraft safely and was transported to the nearby Sky Lakes Medical Center for an evaluation, according to the wing, which added the pilot has “since been released with minor injuries.”

“We are so grateful that our pilot was able to walk away from this mishap,” said 173rd Fighter Wing vice commander Col. Micah Lambert in a statement.  “Our Team Kingsley responders acted quickly and with professionalism thanks to the extensive training and safety mindset of our team.”

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A board of officers has been assigned to investigate the cause of the mishap. At the moment, 173rd personnel are “conducting ongoing water sampling to detect if there is a presence of petroleum products in the water,” per the release.

“We don’t believe the aircraft is leaking any petroleum products based on our initial assessment of the water in the canal,” Lambert said. “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.” 

The F-15D is a two-seat model of the longtime Air Force fighter used specifically for training. Combat-ready Air Force units fly other models including the F-15C — a single-pilot version tasked with air superiority — and the F-15E Strike Eagle, a two-seater set-up for ground attacks.    

As our colleagues at The War Zone note, the 173rd Fighter Wing is home to the Air Force’s only F-15C/D schoolhouse, with the service’s aging fleet set for replacement by the upgraded F-15EX in the coming years. 

As of September, the Air Force only had 18 F-15Ds left in the fleet, according to Air & Space Forces Magazine

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