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Eielson-based F-16 Makes Unscheduled Landing in Bethel Due to In-flight Emergency

Katie Basile/KYUK

Eielson Air Force Base has sent a team of specialists to Bethel to secure and repair an F-16 that had to make an unscheduled landing there Tuesday after the pilot reported a mechanical problem.

“Right now we’re in the process of sending a dispatch team,” Eielson spokesperson Capt. Kay Nissen said Wednesday. “That includes both security personnel and maintenance personnel. They’re going to go ahead and assess the jet to see what they can do there to actually fix it.”

Nissen says the jet was one of two F-16s that were returning from a U.S. military training exercise around Guam. She says both jets were scheduled to participate in an upcoming Alaska-based training exercise called Red Flag.

“They were on their way back, so that they could get back before the next Red Flag-Alaska starts,” she said. “And that’s what they were doing when the in-flight emergency occurred.”

No injuries were reported.

Nissen says she’s gotten reports that a lot of people in Bethel were surprised when the jet fighters touched down at the city’s airport. She says there’s been a lot of interest in the fighter jets that still parked at the airport.

“They’ll probably continue to see the F-16s on the flightline for a few more days while we figure out exactly what we can do,” she said.

Nissen says Eielson base commander Col. David Berkland appreciates the community’s help in accommodating the pilots and their aircraft during their unexpected visit.

Tim has worked in the news business for over three decades, mainly as a newspaper reporter and editor in southern Arizona. Tim first came to Alaska with his family in 1967, and grew up in Delta Junction before emigrating to the Lower 48 in 1977 to get a college education and see the world.