A Marine F/A-18 made an emergency landing on Midway Atoll Thursday night after experiencing a mechanical problem, according to Hawaii’s KHON news.
The fighter/attack jet had been taking part in RIMPAC exercises and was traveling from Honolulu back to its base at Iwakuni, Japan after wrapping up its participation.
It was flying with three other F/A-18s and a KC-10 tanker. Officials believe there was a “fuel problem,” the television station reported.“Luckily they landed safely and are now going through the process of figuring out what the problem with the plane was and how it may need to be repaired,” said Don Palawski with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, in an interview with KHON. “They don’t happen often but you always need to be prepared. We’re always ready to accept an aircraft in need.”
Federal officials are hoping this latest emergency landing calls attention to the strategic importance of Henderson Airfield. Midway, under the jurisdiction of the US Fish & Wildlife Service, is facing a $1.2 million budget shortfall.
“There is never a dull moment on this strategically positioned atoll,” said Barry Stieglitz, Supervisor of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s national wildlife refuges in the Pacific. “The budget has simply not kept up with increases in the cost of fuel and infrastructure maintenance.”
Midway is important for airplanes and ships that experience trouble. Last year, a Delta 747 with 359 passengers made an emergency landing there due to a cracked windshield.
Henderson has had 30 refueling or emergency landings so far this year, officials said.