Updated March 28 @ 2:45 pm
A military cargo plane that stopped at Martha’s Vineyard Airport Friday, scooped up a motorcycle, and continued on its way was “an unplanned stop,” according to a spokesperson for a U.S. Air Force reserve unit out of Mississippi.
“While performing an off-station training mission, a U.S. Air Force Reserve crew with the 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron, 403rd Wing, Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi, made an unplanned stop at Martha’s Vineyard Airport, Massachusetts, March 24,” Lt. Col. Marnee Losurdo wrote in an email Monday. “Leadership is aware of the incident, which is under investigation.”
Lt. Col. Losurdo was responding to an inquiry made by The Times on Monday after the Massachusetts National Guard said it had no knowledge or involvement in the mysterious visit.
The incident set off wild speculation in comments and on social media about whom the motorcycle belonged to. In a follow-up email, Lt. Col. Losurdo wrote, “The motorcycle belonged to a member of the aircrew. While the incident is being investigated, there isn’t much more I can tell you until it’s completed.”
Asked when that investigation might be completed, Lt. Col. Losurdo suggested The Times “check back in a couple of weeks.”
The military plane touched down at the airport Friday within view of the Plane View Restaurant.
A social media post from Doug Ulwick, who was patronizing the Plane View Restaurant, described a “freakin’ huge” U.S. Air Force “Hurricane Hunter” landing. Ulwick posted that the plane dropped its cargo ramp, collected a motorcycle, and then immediately took off again. “Don’t see that everyday.”
Reached Monday, Ulwick, an architect who was having lunch with a friend, said, “We heard the noise before we saw the plane.” The plane came in at around 1pm, Ulwick said.
Ulwick said the plane clearly read “Hurricane Hunter” on its tail.
He said people in military-style clothing came down the ramp of the plane.
The plane was at the airport “probably not more than 15 minutes,” Ulwick said.
Tristan Israel, a county commissioner, saw it too. He was at the Plane View eating lunch.
“I saw a vintage BMW motorcycle. I used to own old vintage BMW motorcycles, so that’s how I know,” Israel told The Times. He guessed it was pre-1972, based on the logo. “I was eating next to the window. We looked out and we saw the plane. We saw people walking a vintage motorcycle up to the plane.”
Israel, a former Tisbury select board member, has seen a lot during his time on the Island. “This was a first,” he said. “We were idly talking about what’s going on in the world, so to see a military plane — that wasn’t surprising at all. What was surprising was seeing the bike wheeled on.”
Airport director Geoff Freeman confirmed the plane visited the airport, and saw the motorcycle, but didn’t know why that was happening. He said it wasn’t a motorcycle that belonged to the airport.
On Monday, a Massachusetts National Guard spokesman told The Times the plane was not operated by the National Guard. “This was not a Mass. National Guard plane or mission,” Sgt. Alfred Tripolone, wrote in an email, referring questions to the U.S. Air Force. “We do not operate cargo planes.”
Updated to include information from the military.