Practice landings seen at Medford airport

I live near the Medford airport, and the most curious thing happened Tuesday afternoon. Three big, lumbering U.S. Navy planes landed one after the other, a couple minutes apart. They looked like the air tankers that the firefighters use, but they were painted Navy colors and still had the Navy insignia on them. What are Navy planes doing in Medford?

— Liam L., Medford

We at Since You Asked know you think you saw three planes landing in succession, but what you really saw Tuesday afternoon was one plane almost landing there three times.

The P-3 Orion did a series of landing exercises called "touch and goes," where the plane touches down on the runway and then takes off again.

"It's not uncommon for them to do touch-and-go practice," says Marcy Black, deputy director at the Medford airport.

The P-3 Orion is a four-engine turboprop built by Lockheed since the 1960s, and it is commonly used for maritime surveillance and ocean searches.

Send questions to "Since You Asked," Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by email to We're sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.

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