Several clean runway inspections are raising questions as to exactly how Air Force 2 carrying Vice President Joe Biden ingested some debris shortly after landing in Flagstaff last week.

The aircraft was disabled and kept at Pulliam Airport for nearly a week awaiting repairs.

Inspections performed by city airport officials, supervised by the Secret Service, found no debris both before and after the U.S. Air Force C-32 from the 89th Airlift Wing landed April 26.

Additionally, an in-depth annual inspection of the airport just eight days before the vice president touched down in Flagstaff praised the city-run airport.

"You are to be commended for the procedures that you are using in the day-to-day operations of the airport. The appearance of the airport indicates that they are effective," wrote FAA inspector Steven Oetzell to the city's airport manager.

The April 22 memo, obtained through a public records request, showed the airport was running in full compliance with federal guidelines.

The incident occurred during a visit by Biden to Sedona to meet with Arizona Senator John McCain to kick off a weekend conference.

A spokesperson for the military said an internal investigation is under way into how the engines of the military version of the Boeing 757 were damaged.

The damage to the engines was discovered during a routine post-flight inspection by the crew of the aircraft.

The vice president and his staff returned to Joint Base Andrews as scheduled aboard alternate aircraft.

It is unclear whether the findings from the military investigation will ever be public.

"Any findings will be released as appropriate to ensure continued safe mission accomplishment," a spokesperson for the military stated.

The aircrew for this mission were fully certified to land at a high-altitude facility like Pulliam, the spokesperson confirmed. The Flagstaff airport is popular with the military, with pilots flying in and out in order to keep their high-altitude certification up-to-date.

There are, however, no plans to sue the city to recoup the costs of the damaged engines.

A maintenance recovery team from Andrews Air Force Base was dispatched to Flagstaff to perform repairs to the aircraft shortly after the damage was found.

The aircraft, known as a C-32 when the vice president is not traveling on board, returned to Maryland on Thursday.

Joe Ferguson can be reached at 556-2253 or

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