REDMOND, OR -- An air tanker working the Akawana Fire in Jefferson County blew a tire, forcing a brief shutdown of the Redmond Airport, Thursday afternoon.
Redmond City Manager Keith Witcosky was there. He tells KBND News the emergency call initially came in just before 12:30 p.m. that a plane’s landing gear wasn’t working. "It was coming from the fire near Camp Sherman. When it came into view the landing gear was down, and it stayed down. However, as it reached about halfway across the runway, the left rear tire blew; so it skidded and began to bank a little bit to the right, but the pilots did a great job at keeping it straight. There were no injuries, no fire, no smoke; but, just a totally destroyed tire."
Because of the ongoing paving project, the Redmond Airport only has one functioning runway, so the incident impacted all flights. "That means commercial flights," says Witcosky. "And, it means that if they need to deal with the fire near Sisters, they’re going to have to use a different airport for the tankers." No word on how many tankers were impacted by the 50-minute closure, but Witcosky says they are busy at the Redmond Airport, right now. "We were out here for a half an hour, waiting for that plane to come in and we saw three tankers go in and out, within about a half an hour to an hour. And then, this plane, this crew – I was just talking to them – are from Missoula, Montana, which is just interesting in terms of where tankers come from to fight fires in our region."
Witcosky says Butler Aircraft changed the tire so the tanker could be moved and the airport reopened at about 1:15 p.m.