* Article updated 10:50 UTC with a statement from FedEx *
Stormy weather caused extensive disruption yesterday in Omaha, Nebraska, leaving many without power. The wind speeds generated in the severe thunderstorms that tore through the Omaha–Council Bluffs metropolitan area also impacted operations at Eppley Airfield, just outside downtown Omaha, throwing a FedEx Cessna turboprop into a fence.
Gone with the wind
As severe thunderstorms rained down on Omaha on Saturday morning, a FedEx Cessna 208B parked at the city’s Eppley Airfield (OMA) was taken for an unexpected ride. The force of the winds generated by the storms threw the parked turboprop across the apron and into a fence. As seen below, it came to a rest awkwardly tilted to its left-hand side.
Baron Aviation | FedEx Cessna 208 Caravan (N720FX) was caught by high winds and blown into a fence at Omaha Eppley Airport (KOMA), NB whilst parking overnight resulting in unknown damage. Winds exceeded 60 Knots at the time. @omaha_scanner @Levi_the_pilot @OMAairport pic.twitter.com/c9gjENbPPh
— JACDEC (@JacdecNew) July 11, 2021
According to local newspaper The Daily Nonpareil, the winds that moved the aircraft are said to have reached speeds as high as 96 mph (154.5 km/h). However, a power outage caused by the storms meant that the airport couldn’t confirm the figure immediately. Speaking to the paper about the wind speed, local meteorologist Suzanne Fortin stated that:
“It was pretty significant. There was a smaller FedEx plane that was moved from its anchor. That’s a pretty good wind that’s going to do that kind of thing. (…) At Eppley, it may be the highest wind gust we’ve ever observed.”
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The aircraft involved
As seen in the earlier tweet, the aircraft that was involved in this incident bears the registration N720FX. It is one of 238 examples of the Cessna 208B Super Cargomaster that make up the vast majority of FedEx’s 281-strong turboprop fleet. These aircraft actually operate for FedEx on a dry-leased basis under a separate brand known as FedEx Feeder.
FedEx Feeder is the world’s largest operator of the Cessna 208B Super Cargomaster, and its remaining aircraft are French-Italian ATR 42 and ATR 72 freighters. It will also soon begin taking deliveries of the Cessna 408 SkyCourier, of which it will be the launch customer.
According to data from RadarBox.com, N720FX is 26 years old, and has not flown since the incident. Its last flight beforehand took place on July 9th, when it flew an 85-minute intra-Nebraska hop from McCook (MCK) back to Omaha’s Eppley Airfield.
Regarding the incident, a FedEx spokesperson confirmed to Simple Flying that:
“We can confirm two of our feeder aircraft were damaged during the storm, and aircraft maintenance is evaluating. Safety is our highest priority, and we are thankful none of our team members were injured.”
Nebraska’s largest airport
Omaha’s Eppley Airfield, where the incident took place, is the largest airport in Nebraska. Boasting three runways ranging from 2,485 to 2,896 meters long, the facility serves a wide variety of passenger destinations. For example, all US big three carriers have a presence there, both on mainline services, and feeder routes served by their regional brands.
However, the airport is also a key destination for several cargo carriers. Of these, FedEx serves the most destinations from Omaha, including its ‘SuperHub’ at Memphis. It flies cargo from Omaha to seven destinations. These include FedEx’s national hub at Indianapolis, as well as Denver, which is Eppley Airfield’s most popular passenger destination.
What do you make of this incident? Were you affected by the stormy conditions in Nebraska yesterday? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.