Pilot talks about making emergency landing Thursday at Mitchell International

CREATED May 16, 2013 - UPDATED: May 16, 2013

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  • Video by wtmj.com


MILWAUKEE - The pilot of the KC-135 forced to make an emergency landing at Mitchell International speaks exclusively to Today’s TMJ4.

Captain Jason Park said he has trained and trained for this kind of thing in the simulator, but this was real. A perfect storm of problems occurred on Thursday. First it was the engine, then the landing gear, and the tires. But Captain Park kept his cool and got his plane and the people on board safely on the ground.

Fifteen minutes into the flight, "We got into a holding pattern and started working together with the crew and figured out we had a difficult situation with the engine," Park said.

Captain Park, another pilot, and two boom operators were on board the four-engine plane. It can fly on just three, but it's not what you want.

"We went ahead and decided to proceed in for landing and that's when we found out we had another issue, the landing gear," he remembered.

Was it down or not? They were able to troubleshoot that one, and confirm the landing gear was down. But the tension was a little high, especially after a KC-135 crashed in the mountains of Kyrgyzstan two weeks ago.

"Since that took place, everybody's a little on edge so once the second emergency popped up that's when we really started to look in the books and figure out, 'OK, what else is going on?'" he said.

And then they had a third problem: concerns about the tires and whether they could handle breaking to a stop. So Captain Park kept the plane in the air to burn fuel, and the extra weight that comes with it. Eventually, the time came to touch down. It was perfect, but that was just about the only thing that was.

"When it was over, it was good," Captain Park said. "It was good that everybody was safe."

Maintenance crews are taking a look at the plane to figure out exactly what went wrong. Captain Park has been flying these planes for six years and said he’s never had anything like this happen before.