F-16 Drops Empty Fuel Tanks Over Eastern Colorado

Colo. Air National Guard Plane Lands After In-Flight Emergency

A Colorado Air National Guard F-16 from Buckley Air Force Base dropped two empty external fuel tanks after the pilot experienced an in-flight emergency.

The F-16C was on a regular training mission over eastern Colorado and western Kansas when the emergency occurred.

The pilot was able to avoid any populated areas when he dropped the tanks over Elbert County.

"I understand they're about 10 or 12 miles west of Agate," said John Spann with Buckley Air Force Base. "We are working with Elbert County officials to locate them."

An Army National Guard helicopter looked Thursday for the tanks, with no luck. Air Force and county officials searched for a second day on Friday.

Spann asked people to stay clear of the tanks to protect the integrity of the safety investigation.

"If any member of the public finds the tanks, please notify officials immediately," Spann said.

Because they were dropped from 24,000 feet the impact of the fall may have buried the tanks in the ground, and they may never be found, said Air Force Maj. Nicole David.

The jet, from the 120th Fighter Squadron, landed safely at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, after dropping the tanks.

Spann did not know the nature of the in-flight emergency.

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