Thursday, August 09, 2012

Tanker survives tire mishap: Firefighting aircraft makes safe emergency landing at Rogue Valley International - Medford Airport (KMFR), Oregon, after wheel shreds on takeoff

A firefighting air tanker contracted by the Oregon Department of Forestry made a safe emergency landing Wednesday at the Medford airport after it was discovered to have a bad tire. 

The DC-7 owned by Madras-based Butler Aviation touched down on the airport runway at 12:19 p.m. under the watchful eyes of airport and Medford Fire Department crews called in, authorities said. None of the three crew members was injured.

The faulty tire, one of two under the plane's left wing, was later changed and the plane was back in operation that afternoon, ODF spokesman Brian Ballou said.

The tanker was full of retardant when it left the airport at 10:49 a.m. bound for the 1,500-acre Barry Point fire on Dog Mountain, about 24 miles southwest of Lakeview, Ballou said.

But after takeoff, crews noticed pieces of tire on the runway and called ahead to the tanker, Ballou said.

While still in mid-air, the tanker's pilot lowered the landing gear so the pilot of the lead plane in the fleet could take a look at it, Ballou said. The tire had visibly missing tread but it was still inflated, so crews decided to the plane should drop its retardant before heading back to Medford, he said.

The drop was successful and the plane did not return to that fire because no further retardant drops were ordered after the tire was replaced.

DC-7s are equipped with two tires under each wing and one under the nose.

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