The most recent Greater Peoria Honor Flight appeared to be a success.
The airplane that ferried area military veterans to and from Washington, D.C., probably has seen better days.
After the Sun Country Airlines 737 charter returned Tuesday night to Peoria, it departed for its Minneapolis base, with only its crew aboard.
But after about 30 miles, a mechanical issue prompted the pilots to fly back to Gen. Wayne A. Downing Peoria International Airport.
Apparently, the plane lost pressurization inside its cabin. In the grand scheme, that's not a big deal, according to Gene Olson, the airport director.
But the lack of pressurization makes it difficult to fly above 10,000 feet or so, unless the crew uses supplemental oxygen. Fuel consumption also might be higher than anticipated.
"They've got a flight plan for very much higher altitude, in the 20,000s or 30,000s," Olson said. "They'd have to redo fuel calculations and perhaps have to take on even more fuel."
The problem appeared to be rectified relatively quickly. According to FlightAware.com, the plane left Peoria at 1:42 a.m. Wednesday and arrived at 2:36 a.m. at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.
About 10 p.m. Tuesday, the Honor Flight returned from its day-long whirlwind tour of national service and war memorials in D.C. The trip included 73 veterans, including five from World War II.
Olson was heading home about 11:30 p.m. when his assistant sent word about the plane problem. The director returned to his office, which has a good view of the airfield, and turned on the airport radio.
"Everything after that was routine," he said about a normal landing.
The fire department at the adjacent Peoria Air National Guard base was alerted, but the Sun Country pilot never declared an emergency, according to Olson.
"This is not something I would classify as an emergency," he said. "More of a mechanical annoyance."
On the way to D.C. early Tuesday, the Honor Flight plane was struck by lightning. The plane landed at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport without incident.
It appears the plane was the same one that experienced the depressurization trouble after it returned to Peoria.
Olson said he wasn't certain about that, but a passenger told him mechanics had checked the plane in D.C. and cleared it for takeoff. At first, another plane was expected to replace it.