We based this decision on my improving condition and our relative position to the ship and the divert field
He realized he could not reach the divert field
and prepared for ejection.
The aircrew immediately pointed the crippled aircraft at the nearest emergency divert field
at Elmendorf AFB, which was 300 miles away.
We had a configuration problem and even though we were close to max trap, we still were relatively low on fuel, high on the throttles and 200 miles away from our divert field
The flight lead determined that the ship was now 35 miles closer than the divert field
and therefore was the better option.
The divert field
had a narrow runway (148 ft) and taxiways, so there was little room for error (the U-2S wingspan is 105 ft).
We noted that only our primary divert field
had arresting gear.
The other F-16 aviator was able to get the aircraft on the ground at a divert field
after the engine caught fire, but the aircraft veered right uncontrollably during the landing roll.
We do not have self-start capability, so choosing a divert field
with the appropriate starting equipment is very important.
Our wingman, however, needed to get some gas before we pressed to the divert field
After informing his flight lead, 1 Lt Mayfield took the lead and began a turn towards the nearest divert field
I made a comm call to our nearest divert field
, Evergreen OLF, to confirm the duty runway and that we were troubleshooting.