An unplanned event sparked extra attention at Rosecrans Memorial Airport after a U.S. Navy Blue Angels pilot made a landing in St. Joseph on Wednesday evening.
Marine Capt. Jeff Kuss was testing field arresting gear at the St. Joseph airport on a F/A-18 Hornet
before the elite Blue Angels flight team performs in Kansas City this
weekend. During the testing operation, the right tire of the jet went
flat and began to smoke. The tire did not catch on fire, but Rosecrans
fire crews activated emergency gear to prevent additional problems.
“This wasn’t an emergency situation,” said Adam Freeman, airport
operations manager at Rosecrans. “It’s common at major airports. It just
seems much more rare due to the fact that it’s a Blue Angel.”
Mr. Freeman explained that Rosecrans serves as a secondary landing
site for high-performance aircraft at military shows in the area. Prior
to the weekend’s air show at Kansas City’s Downtown Municipal Airport,
one of the Blue Angels needed to land at Rosecrans to test the steel
cables that are deployed on the runway to stop an aircraft in the event
of an emergency situation.
It was after that landing Wednesday, just before 7 p.m., that the problem was noticed with one of the F/A-18 Hornet’s tires.
A similar test was conducted earlier in the summer at Rosecrans before the Thunderbirds performed at an air show at Whiteman Air Force Base in Knob Noster, Mo.
The Navy aircraft was grounded in St. Joseph as plans were made to
have the tire and gear repaired before returning to Kansas City. Mr.
Freeman said a C-130 known as “Fat Albert” would arrive at around 10
a.m. with the Blue Angels’ support staff and repair equipment. The plane
was expected to leave St. Joseph shortly after that.
In the meantime, the blue and gold Navy aircraft brought a rush of excitement to onlookers at Rosecrans, even if it was parked.
Jacyln Ziesel stopped on the runway with her two children, Kaleigh,
10, and Zack, 7, before heading to classes at St. Francis Xavier School.
The children posed for pictures in front of the plane.
“I wanted to see the fighter,” Kaleigh said. “It was huge.”