A single-engine propeller aircraft piloted by Oklahoma Sen. Jim Inhofe was forced off the runway at South Grand Lake Regional Airport on Sunday night due to severe weather conditions, according to the Associated Press.
Severe thunderstorms were present during Sunday afternoon and evening. No injuries or damage to the privately-owned Harmon Rocket aircraft were reported. The FAA is investigating the incident.
Donelle Harder, a spokeswoman for the Oklahoma Republican, told The Associated Press that Inhofe was flying with another pilot friend on Sunday evening when weather forced him to land in Ketchum, about 70 miles northeast of Tulsa.
Earlier, the Tulsa World reported that the Oklahoma Highway Patrol initially indicated that Inhofe was taxiing down the airstrip’s runway and swerved to avoid an animal, resulting in the aircraft leaving the runway. OHP later reported that information was unconfirmed and they are still investigating, according to OHP spokesman Paul Timmons.
The 81-year-old Republican has been involved in other aviation incidents, including a 1999 emergency landing in Claremore, and in 2004 and 2006 in Tulsa, according to Tulsa World archives.
In October 2010, Inhofe landed on a closed runway in Port Isabel, Texas.
Three years ago, Inhofe’s son, Dr. Perry Inhofe, was piloting a newly purchased aircraft when it crashed, resulting in Dr. Inhofe’s death.
Inhofe is one of the last active pilots in the Senate. He is a staunch proponent of pilots’ rights.