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KC-135 tanker jet crashes at Iowa airport; none injured

A KC-135 Stratotanker aerial refueling jet belonging to the Iowa Air National Guard crash-landed on a Sioux City runway Wednesday afternoon when its front landing gear failed to deploy, the Air Force said in a release.

Five airmen from Iowa’s 185th Air Refueling Wing were on the flight at the time, according to the release. None were injured.

The crew was practicing touch-and-go landings at Sioux Gateway Airport during a local training mission, the Air Force said. Touch-and-go maneuvers allow pilots to practice ascending and descending by taking off, circling back and momentarily landing before climbing again.

The aircraft’s nose, which scraped along the ground upon landing, is damaged, the Air Force said. The rest of the jet was unharmed.

It’s unclear whether the landing gear did not deploy due to a mechanical failure or user error. The Air Force is investigating the cause of the accident.

Sioux City Fire Rescue and Air Force crash recovery and safety teams responded to the mishap, according to the release. The airport’s main runway was closed while the crash recovery team worked to move the tanker.

The Air Force typically records several landing gear-related mishaps each year, according to accident data obtained by Air Force Times in 2022. Most qualify as “Class C” incidents, or those that cause between $60,000 and $600,000 in damages.

The 185th ARW briefly paused flying operations at the Sioux City airport while a monthslong construction project replaced parts of the runway. Regular military missions resumed there in November 2022.

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