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Air Force Report: Jet Engine Oil-system Malfunction Forced F-16 to Divert to Bethel

KYUK file photo

Air Force officials say the mechanical problem that forced the pilot of an Eielson-based F-16 to land at the Bethel Airport last September was a malfunction of the engine’s oil system.

A safety investigation conducted by the Air Force identified the oil-system problem as the cause of the malfunction that led the pilot of the F-16 to declare an in-flight emergency and land the jet in Bethel on Sept. 22, on the way back from a training exercise around Guam.

A statement issued by Eielson Air Force Base’s chief safety officer last month says the pilot of the jet activated the aircraft’s Emergency Power Unit before landing in Bethel.

A second F-16 that was returning from the training exercise also landed in Bethel, as is required by Air Force protocol. Both jets remained there until a team of aviation-maintenance specialists flew to Bethel and repaired the malfunction, then the jet back to Eielson in early October.

Eielson officials thanked Bethel police and fire personnel and community leaders for their help during the incident, along with assistance from members of the Alaska National Guard’s detachment in Bethel.

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.