April 21, 2005 (by Lieven Dewitte) - The Burlington International Airport, Vermont, closed their runways on Wednesday after an F-16's landing gear collapsed. The F-16 from the ANG 158th "Green Mountain Boys" FW was returning from a routine exercise at around 17.40h when the accident happened.
USAF F-16C block 25 #83159 with AIM-9's on the wingtips, with the Burlington IAP tower in the background. [Photo by Philippe Colin
The F-16 (#83-1159
) was resting on its wing after the accident, Vt. Air National Guard Lt. Col. Lloyd Goodrow said. They planned to remove the plane and any debris from the runway Wednesday night.
The pilot, Col. Douglas Fick
was not injured. The cause of the accident is yet unknown but most likely, Col. Fick became disoriented due to the heavy rainfall right as he tried to land his F-16. A board of officers will be appointed to investigate the cause.
The crash cancelled about eight flights in and eight flights out of the airport. The airport itself remained open but runways were shut down. Airlines were put on notice that the runways were closed.
158th "Green Mountain Boys" Fighter Wing
The 158th FW of the Vermont ANG
was the first to operate the F-16 in the air defense role, replacing the F-4D Phantom in mid-1986. One of their primary responsibilities was the interception and shadowing of Soviet aircraft flying near US territory.
The first aircraft that were delivered were block 15
models, later converted to the Air Defense Fighter (ADF
) version. From 1989-1997, the Vermont Air National Guard was an Air Defense Unit, having aircraft on 5-minute alert, seven days a week, 24 hours a day. Many times Vermont F-16's were called upon to fly to a point just short of Iceland and escort Soviet bombers as they flew off the coastline of the United States. They also assisted with aircraft experiencing in-flight malfunctions and hijackings.
Along with the Air Defense mission, the Wing has also been tasked seven times to deploy to different locations in Central America to help patrol the skies and intercept aircraft suspected of illegally smuggling drugs. Along the way, the unit received the newer block 25
version of the F-16, and later still the advanced model of the Pratt & Whitney 220E engine and the AIM-120 AMRAAM
In 2000 the 158th deployed in support of Operation Southern Watch as part of Air Expeditionary Force 9 and in 2004 they deployed overseas to provide close air support to U.S. troops in Iraq.