PEASE AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, N.H. –
A KC-46 crew from the 157th Air Refueling Wing had to declare in-flight emergency during a New Hampshire National Guard orientation flight for state congressional staffers Aug. 23, after the aircraft’s boom failed to retract.
Nine personnel from the offices of Reps. Annie Kuster and Chris Pappas had just witnessed a mid-air refueling when the mishap occurred. The tanker would have returned to Pease Air National Guard Base, but the runway, shared by the Wing and Port City Air, was temporary closed. An unrelated IFE earlier in the day forced a C-5 Super Galaxy out of Dover, Delaware to divert to Pease, shutting down runway operations.
As a result, the congressional flight on the newly painted "Spirit of Portsmouth" was diverted to Joint Base McGuire Dix Lakehurst, New Jersey where it landed with the boom extended without incident. Emergency services from the 305th Air Mobility Wing responded and safely secured the scene.
A second KC-46A carrying seven personnel from the offices of Sens. Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan was diverted to Manchester-Boston Regional Airport. The Wing provided a shuttle back to Pease for the staffers.
A third tanker from the 157th ARW that was returning from Florida diverted to McGuire to transport the House staffers back to Pease that evening. The runway had since been reopened after the C-5 was towed to a secure location.
Shaheen, Hassan, Kuster and Pappas were not on the flights.
The confluence of events was unlike anything the crews and passengers had experienced, according to those on board. Despite the long day, all but four of the congressional party arrived at Guard headquarters in Concord this morning for a second orientation flight on two Army National Guard Black Hawk helicopters.
“I received a lot of positive feedback from the staffers,” said Capt. Jeremiah Neault, a congressional liaison for the NHNG. “Some were texting me from New Jersey. They were all amazed at the professionalism of the crew, how cool-headed and calm they were.”
A Kuster staffer told Neault, “once you’ve seen a refueling, you’ve seen them all. Watching your crew respond to multiple contingencies and do it in such a methodical and smooth manner was better than the actual refueling.”
--compiled by NHNG and 157th ARW Public Affairs