August 11, 2010 (by Asif Shamim) - An F-16C from the 125th FS made an emergency landing at Will Rogers Airport, Oklahoma City after declaring an in-flight engine problem which resulted in the pilot jettisoning the two empty external fuel tanks over an unpopulated area near the town of Amber.
A news release from the Air Guard said the incident involving the unarmed F-16 occurred around 15.00hrs local time on August 10th while it was flying a training mission near Fort Sill when it began experiencing engine trouble.
Will Rogers World Airport spokeswoman Karen Carney said the plane landed safely and that the pilot was safe.
Lieutenant Colonel Robin Cavanaugh, the public affairs officer for the 138th Fighter Wing, said the pilot followed a check-list for an in-flight engine problem, which called for him to find an unpopulated area and jettison the fuel tanks. They were empty, but dropping them greatly reduced aerodynamic drag on the aircraft making it easier for the pilot to make a safe landing.
"We're very happy that no one was hurt and that the pilot was able to land safely," said Cavanaugh.
The jet's fuel tanks were dropped in an empty field as part of the emergency protocol, fortunately No livestock or property were damaged in the incident. However the field is right next door to the I-44 where startled drivers called Highway Patrol.
Cavanaugh said Wednesday afternoon the tanks have been removed from the field and will be brought back to Tulsa. She said they will not be a focus of the investigation because they did not play a direct role in the emergency.
The 138th Fighter Wing is sending a team of aircraft mechanics to Oklahoma City to find out what caused the engine problem. An accident investigation board will be set up to investigate the causes and a report will be release in due course
Two years ago, an F-16 from the same guard unit dropped a practice bomb onto a Tulsa apartment building just after taking off for a training mission at a Kansas bombing range.
The final report from that incident concluded the pilot had no way of knowing for sure that the small practice bomb had fallen off his aircraft until he landed at Tulsa. But the Air Force refused to reveal exactly what led to that mishap or what the Air Force did to keep it from happening again.