HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah - All six crew members on board a C-130 escaped injury when the air tanker on its way to refuel for a fire fighting mission was forced to make an emergency landing at Hill Air Force Base near Ogden, Utah.
Air Force officials say the aircraft owned by the Wyoming Air National Guard experienced an inflight emergency at about 1 p.m. Sunday. It belongs to the Guard's 153rd Air Refueling Wing.
The air tanker is one of two Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead recently activated to help fight fires in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Utah and California.
The planes are currently stationed in Boise at the National Interagency Fire Center. A spokesperson with NIFC's Eastern Great Basin Coordination Center said the plane left Boise Sunday morning and was heading to a fire in southern Utah.
"The aircraft was on a firefighting mission when the air crew became aware of a potential malfunction with the nose landing gear. The crew then executed an emergency landing," said Army Maj. Beth Smith of U.S. Northern Command.
Hill Air Force Base said in a statement Sunday the aircraft had planned to refuel and resupply at the base. It said an investigation is pending and more information will be released when it becomes available.
The downed aircraft shouldn't make too much a difference when it comes to having enough firefighting resources for the remainder of the fire season.
A NIFC spokesman based in Boise said Sunday that they may either re-align their current aerial fire suppression resources, or possibly bring on another air tanker.
"We are not concerned about having enough capacity," said Mike Ferris, who added that they've had three air tankers stationed at NIFC all year.
KTVB recently had the opportunity to go behind the scene and see how the modified planes work to support firefighting efforts.