Those fire-and-rescue emergency vehicles rushing to Friedman Memorial Airport late Thursday afternoon, before turning around and returning to their stations, were responding to another "routine" emergency that ended without incident.
The pilot of a 1970-model, twin-engine Piper Navajo notified the Friedman control tower some 10 miles from the Hailey field that one of its 310-horsepower engines was shut down. It landed without incident. The aircraft, reportedly carrying the pilot and one passenger, is owned by Summit Aviation LLC of Sun Valley.
Airport Manager Rick Baird said the aircraft may have been on a test flight to check a new engine. He said the pilot probably didn't declare an emergency, but the control tower, as a routine precaution, notified fire-and-rescue services of a Level 2 Alert.
Three types of alerts are common for Friedman and all other airports.
Baird said an annual report compiled by Operations Manager Peter Kramer usually lists 50 to 60 Level 1, 2 and 3 alerts, virtually all of which go unnoticed because of their routine nature.
A Level 1 alert, Baird said, includes such problems as an engine running rough, a landing gear light not working, a compartment door that has popped open or an engine failure on a multi-engine aircraft.
A Level 2 alert includes riskier situations such as smoke in the cockpit or on-board failure of electrical systems.
A Level 3 would be an actual accident, such as an aircraft landing with gear up, a crash or an on-board fire.
Standard operating procedure at Friedman is that regardless of the severity of the alert, the airport's emergency equipment and fire-and-rescue in neighboring areas are automatically alerted as a precaution, Baird said.