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Fri, May 19, 2023

Ditched! USAF F-15D Eagle in Oregon Irrigation Ditch

Water Reported Uninjured

On 15 May 2023, a United States Air Force F-15D returning from a routine training mission in day CAVU weather touched down upon then departed the paved surface of Runway 14 at southern-Oregon’s Crater Lake–Klamath Regional Airport (LMT)—coming to rest in a Bureau of Reclamation irrigation canal south of the airfield.

A photograph provided by the USAF’s 173rd Fighter Wing shows the badly-damaged, partially-submerged F-15 marooned transversely across the canal, its nose embedded in the waterway’s south bank.

In a post-incident statement, 173rd Fighter Wing vice-commander Colonel Micah Lambert set forth: “We don’t believe the aircraft is leaking any petroleum products based on our initial assessment of the water in the canal. 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.”

In a year riddled with startlingly-high losses of military aircraft, the LMT incident and Colonel Lambert’s comments pertaining to such evince a U.S. military concerned more so with de rigueur progressive ideologies than the business of fighting and winning wars. At no point in living memory have America’s armed services fielded an aggregate pilot cadre so egregiously characterized by doubtful airmanship and endemic incompetence.

In late-April 2023, U.S. Army Chief of Staff James McConville grounded all Army aviators not then involved in critical missions following a trio of helicopter accidents in which a total of 16 service-members lost their lives.

On 06 May 2023, a U.S. F-16 fighter jet went down near Osan Air Base in South Korea while participating in a routine training flight.

On 08 June 2022, a U.S. Marine Corps MV-22B, of Marine Aircraft Group 39 of the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, was lost near Glamis, California, killing five.

On 23 March 2022, an Oklahoma Air National Guard F16 went down in Central Louisiana after departing Houston.

On 18 March 2022, four U.S. Marines lost their lives when one of the service’s MV-22B was lost during a routine military exercise in Norway’s Gråtådalen valley.

On 24 January 2022, a U.S. Navy F-35C plunged into the South China Sea after its pilot flew it into the approach end of the USS Carl Vinson’s flight-deck, seriously injuring himself and six sailors.

In June 2020, F-15C pilot 1st Lieutenant Kenneth “Kage” Allen, 27, lost his life while attempting to intercept a simulated enemy aircraft during a training exercise off the coast of England. Investigators determined he was disoriented by poor weather.

According to a USAF statement, the F-15 instructor pilot aboard the 15 May LMT accident aircraft exited the jet with minor injuries and was precautionarily evaluated at Sky Lakes Medical Center. The airman has since been released.

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

That the colonel’s expressed concerns exclude the distressing fact that one of his instructor pilots had driven a $60-million-dollar fighter off the end of 10,000-foot-long, 150-foot-wide runway in day VMC is at best vexing and at worst indicative of a malignant apathy wholly inconsistent with U.S. military tradition.  

The 173rd Fighter Wing—the mission of which includes training F-15 pilots under Air Education and Training Command—is working with local authorities and federal agencies, including the Bureau of Reclamation, to ensure the damaged aircraft is safely removed from the canal.

A board of officers has been convened to investigate the mishap.

FMI: www.af.mil

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