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Air Force crew disciplined for landing on Martha’s Vineyard to pick up vintage BMW motorcycle

Air Force leadership was reportedly unaware of the detour during a training mission in March.

Martha's Vineyard was the site of an unauthorized Air Force stop in March. William De Sousa-Mauk / file photo

An Air Force Reserve crew has been disciplined for making an unplanned stop on Martha’s Vineyard during a training mission earlier this year. The stop, which occurred on March 25, was made so that a crew member could pick up a vintage motorcycle, The Martha’s Vineyard Times reported.

The crew was with the U.S. Air Force Reserve’s 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron, 403rd Wing. It is the largest flying organization based at Keesler Air Force Base in Mississippi.

All crew members were downgraded on crew qualifications, and administrative actions have been served, the Times reported.

“Air Force Reserve crews must put in flight training time each month to keep their qualifications, and off-station training achieves valid training requirements,” Col. Stuart M. Rubio, 403rd Wing commander, said in a release. “This personal stop was an abuse of government assets. We hold our reservists to the highest standards of conduct, and these actions are not tolerated.”

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The large plane that landed at Martha’s Vineyard Airport was a WC-130 Hercules aircraft. Also known as “hurricane hunters,” these planes fly weather reconnaissance missions into storms of all kinds to obtain data on movement, size, and intensity, according to the Air Force.

The crew, which consisted of five members, flew from Keesler to Quonset Air National Guard Base on March 24, the Times reported. The following day, they stopped by Martha’s Vineyard to retrieve a crew member’s 1970 BMW R75/5 motorcycle. 403rd Wing leadership was not aware of this stop. The stop lasted about 15 minutes, the Times reported.

After that, CNN reported, the crew flew to Mather, California. This was to pick up special equipment for an atmospheric river mission. Atmospheric Rivers are bands of moisture that come across the Pacific. These systems account for as much as half the West Coast’s annual precipitation, according to the Air Force.

Wing leadership found out about the stop on March 27 and subsequently grounded the crew in California, according to CNN. Another aircraft was sent to pick them up, and the motorcycle remains in California, according to the Times.

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