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Air Force jet lands in Mass. after losing pressurization

Emergency crews surrounded the C-5 Galaxy transport jet after its arrival at Westover Air Reserve Base on Saturday.
Emergency crews surrounded the C-5 Galaxy transport jet after its arrival at Westover Air Reserve Base on Saturday.Air Force via Facebook

BEDFORD — An Air Force Lockheed C-5 Galaxy transport jet flying to Delaware from Ramstein Air Force Base in Germany lost pressurization over the Atlantic on Saturday morning, forcing the massive plane to divert to the Westover Air Reserve Base in Chicopee.

Lieutenant Colonel James G. Bishop, the base’s chief of public affairs, said it was unclear what caused the plane to lose pressure. The 10 crew members and 15 passengers on board were able to breathe using oxygen masks while the jet descended to a lower altitude, Bishop said. The plane landed safely at Westover at 2:29 p.m., Bishop said. A young girl was taken to a nearby hospital with minor injuries, a spokesman said later Saturday, but the other passengers and crew members reported no injuries.


“This is not quite routine, but this is something that happens and that we prepare for,” Bishop said in an interview. “Significantly, no in-flight emergency was declared.”

The loss of pressure happened around 11 a.m. as the jet was flying at 34,000 feet over the Atlantic Ocean, on its way to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, Bishop said. The incident did not affect the ability of pilots to control the plane’s flight.

When the loss of pressure was first reported, crews at Hanscom Air Force Base in Bedford and the Pease Air National Guard Base in Portsmouth, N.H., were told to prepare to possibly receive the jet. Ambulances and other emergency vehicles swarmed the runway at Hanscom, where Air Force flight surgeons were also standing by. At Hanscom, 29 ambulances and two emergency medical services vans that had gathered at the base in case the plane landed there drove away shortly before 2:45 p.m. A reporter was not allowed onto the base.

The jet ultimately landed at Westover, which was the closest runway to its position. Westover also sports one of the longest runways on the East Coast, making it easier to land the C-5, which Bishop called one of the largest aircraft in the world.


Emergency rooms at Emerson Hospital in Concord, the Lahey Clinic Hospital in Burlington, and Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston were notified of the event.

Globe correspondent Gal Tziperman Lotan and Bryan Marquard of the Globe staff contributed to this report. Dan Adams can be reached at dadams@globe.com. Find him on Twitter at @DanielAdams86.