The aircraft involved was serial number 17-46034 ‘Spirit of Portsmouth’ from the New Hampshire Air National Guard’s 157th Air Refueling Wing/133rd Air Refueling Squadron ‘Wildcats’ at Pease Air National Guard Base, Portsmouth International Airport, New Hampshire. During a flight from Pease, the aircraft made an emergency landing at Joint Base McGuire Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey, with the refuelling boom still deployed after its hoist cable snapped, preventing it from being retracted.
The latter was damaged as it scraped along the runway but there appeared to be no immediate signs of any other damage. Emergency services from the 305th Air Mobility Wing responded and safely secured the scene, with no fire or injuries to crew or passengers.
The crew had initially planned to divert back to Pease but an unrelated emergency diversion of a C-5M Super Galaxy to the base earlier in the day had meant the Pease runway was closed. A total of 16 New Hampshire Congressional staff members were on board this and a second KC-46A which were undertaking an orientation flight for the Congressional delegation at the time of the incident.
The second KC-46A diverted to Manchester-Boston Regional Airport, New Hampshire. A third KC-46A that was en route home from Florida at the time diverted into Joint Base McGuire Dix-Lakehurst to take the Congress members back to New Hampshire. The aircraft involved in the incident had already been in the news earlier this year after being painted in a patriotic, eye-catching special colour scheme to mark the USAF’s 75th birthday and the 400th anniversary of Portsmouth.