(Editor’s note: This story was updated at 7:20 p.m. Tuesday with new information from the Air National Guard’s 173rd Fighter Wing.)
An F-15D Eagle fighter jet suffered an in-flight emergency and veered off the runway upon landing at Kingsley Field Monday afternoon, the Oregon Air National Guard said in a release Tuesday.
The jet was returning to Kingsley Field, home to the Guard’s 173rd Fighter Wing in southern Oregon, at the end of a routine training mission when the emergency occurred, the wing said.
“The aircraft left the paved surface and came to a stop in the Bureau of Reclamation irrigation canal at the south side of the runway,” according to the wing.
Its pilot safely climbed out of the aircraft on the ground and was taken to a nearby hospital for evaluation. He was released with minor injuries, the wing said Tuesday evening.
“We are so grateful that our pilot was able to walk away from this mishap,” 173rd Fighter Wing Vice Commander Col. Micah Lambert said in a release Tuesday. “Our Team Kingsley responders acted quickly and with professionalism thanks to the extensive training and safety mindset of our team.”
A photo posted to Twitter by Jim Hendren, a former Arkansas state senator and F-15 pilot, shows the jet partially submerged in the canal. A wing spokesperson confirmed the picture is authentic and said the wing is still in the process of recovering the jet.
I've landed these before. Never like this. Glad pilots safe. pic.twitter.com/dcWtzN08SE— Jim Hendren (@JimHendren1) May 16, 2023
An investigation into the incident is underway. The Air Force did not say whether it suspects pilot error or mechanical failure caused the accident.
The wing is taking water samples to catch any traces of petroleum products that may have leaked into the irrigation canal.
“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 Air Force owns 18 F-15Ds, most of which belong to the Air National Guard, and more than 400 F-15s overall. At nearly 40 years old, the Air Force is in the process of retiring its C- and D-model aerial dogfighting planes to make way for the new F-15EX.
Forty-five F-15s have suffered major mishaps in the past 10 years — nearly five incidents for every 100,000 flight hours — including five jets that were destroyed and two airmen killed, according to Air Force data. Those mishaps, called Class A and B events, cause at least $600,000 in damages or result in death, disability or a destroyed aircraft.
Most recently, 1st Lt. Kenneth “Kage” Allen, 27, died in an F-15C crash while trying to intercept a simulated enemy aircraft in training off the coast of England in June 2020. Investigators determined he was disoriented by poor weather.
Rachel Cohen joined Air Force Times as senior reporter in March 2021. Her work has appeared in Air Force Magazine, Inside Defense, Inside Health Policy, the Frederick News-Post (Md.), the Washington Post, and others.