April 4, 2004 (by Lieven Dewitte) - Members of the 183rd Fighter Wing based at Capital Airport Springfield, IL,searched unsuccessfully Saturday for a 300-gallon fuel tank that was dropped from an F-16C on Saturday morning.
The pilot was forced to jettison the centerline fuel tank during a training mission about 10 a.m. in the Howard Military Operating Area near Vermont.
The F-16 from the 183rd Fighter Wing was on a training mission when it experienced compressor stalls, an extremely rare mechanical failure. The pilot decided, following a procedural checklist, to drop the tank from approximately 12,000 feet.
Dropping the tank reduces the aircraft's weight and drag and gives the pilot better control in the event of engine failure. About 10:35 a.m. the F-16 landed safely at Capital Airport in Springfield, where it had also taken off.
The 300-gallon tank, which is about 12 feet long and 2½ feet wide and weighs 360 pounds, only contained some residual fuel.
Based on pilot reports, the Air Guard believes the tank landed in western Fulton County. Personnel was dispatched to find the tank and secure the area.
Air National Guard officials urged citizens not to disturb the tank if found, but to call local police.
On April 5th at about 1 p.m. , the crew of an Army National Guard helicopter found the tank approximately two miles north of Vermont. The tank was located in a farm pasture.
Members of the 183rd Fighter Wing recovered the tank, intact, by 5 p.m. and returned it to Capital Airport.