Fighter aircraft recovered from Kingsley Field irrigation canal

A U.S. Air Force F-15D assigned to the 173rd Fighter Wing sits in a Bureau of Reclamation canal on the south side of the runway following a mishap landing at Kingsley Field in Klamath Falls, Oregon May 15, 2023. Absorbent booms surround the aircraft as precaution against the leakage of fuel or other substances. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Jefferson Thompson)

KLAMATH FALLS, Ore. – A U.S. Air Force F-15D has been recovered from an irrigation canal in Klamath Falls.

The Oregon Air National Guard’s 173rd Fighter Wing said the aircraft was on a routine training mission on May 14. When it landed at Kingsley Field in Klamath Falls, it left the paved runway and came to a stop in an irrigation canal.

There was one crew member on board, identified as an F-15 instructor pilot. The pilot was reportedly taken to a local hospital and released the same day with minor injuries.

After everything settled down, the 173rd FW had to face the herculean task of removing the now-waterlogged aircraft from the canal.

Because of the soft, narrow soil around the canal, typical extraction methods couldn’t be used.

So, after procuring a crane that was large enough to handle the extraction, the Bureau of Reclamation lowered the water in the canal to allow a recovery team to access connection points on the aircraft so it could be lifted onto solid ground.

“This was a challenging undertaking due to all of the unforeseen contingencies that are associated with the mishap,” said Lt. Col. Victor Knill, Director of 173rd Fighter Wing Emergency Operations Center.

According to the 173rd, water samples since the “mishap” revealed only trace amounts of petroleum products in the area.

“Ensuring the safety of our community’s irrigation water is a top priority, and this is why have been working with the Bureau of Reclamation and the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality to prevent contamination from the mishap,” said Lambert.  “Partnering with our local and federal agencies has been key to executing this recovery safely, and effectively.”

A Safety Investigation Board is currently reviewing the incident and further updates will be publicly released when they become available.

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