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Update on mechanical failure in KC-135 plane Tuesday

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MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- A maintenance crew with Milwaukee's 128th Refueling Wing is trying to determine what caused a hydraulic system to fail on a KC-135 plane that was forced to make an emergency landing in Indiana on Tuesday, June 18th.

The problem was with the plane's right side hydraulic system -- and was the fourth incident involving a KC-135 plane in about a month-and-a-half.

When the hydraulic system failed on the plane's right side on Tuesday afternoon, the 128th Air Refueling crew on board went into emergency mode.

“That failed and it took away some of the systems of the airplane that we would normally have to land it in a normal configuration -- so we had to rely on manually lowering the flaps to generate lift with the airplane that slows down for landing," Wing Commander, Col. Ted Metzgar with the 128th Air Refueling Wing said.

The crew also had to increase the landing speed -- making Indiana a more attractive place to land (vs. Mitchell International Airport) because a longer runway was available.

Officials say the crew on board was never in any danger, because the plane can be flown with hydraulic assistance, but Col. Metzgar says one thing the emergency incident can do is build character -- adding to the crew's level of experience.

"None of us want these things to happen, but I know they will because they’re mechanical machines and they’re going to fail. Something’s going to happen. I'd much rather for something to go wrong here than if they’re over in a combat theater, so in the Pacific or in the Middle East and they have a lot of other things to worry about and think about," Col. Metzgar said.

Other recent issues involving KC-135 planes have involved other component failures -- including an N1 engine sensor, oil pressure switch and flight control system computer.

The planes average about 50 years in age, but Metzgar says you can't blame age.

"We’ve got an older airplane but they have been taken apart and put back together and just everything has been replaced on this jet at one point or another since it was built," Col. Metzgar said.

A maintenance crew from the 128th flew to Indiana to the ailing aircraft to make repairs. It is expected to be flown back home on Thursday.

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