The pilot contacted the Fargo tower a little before 1 p.m., the tape shows, to tell air traffic control that Allegiant had been trying to get in touch with airport officials, apparently by telephone.
“We don’t have … enough fuel to go anywhere else,” the pilot told the Fargo tower. “And our guys are trying to get in touch with the tower manager right now to coordinate our landing or I’m going to have to declare an emergency and come in and land.”
The Fargo tower gave the pilot a phone number to try, and then told him the airspace would be clear enough to land if he could wait another 20 minutes.
“Yeah, I don’t have 20 minutes,” the pilot said.
The tower then recommended another airport 70 miles to the north, the recording shows.
“Yeah, listen, we’re bingo fuel here in about probably three to four minutes and I got to come in and land,” the pilot said.
“Bingo fuel” is a military term meaning the pilot doesn’t have enough fuel for anything but returning to base and cannot continue on a mission.
The tower told the Allegiant flight the only way he could get permission to land at the closed airport was to contact the Minneapolis air traffic center to declare an emergency.
“Okay,” the pilot said. “I am going to give them another three minutes. … I’ll see if we can get this coordinated.”
The tower then told the pilot his airline should have known about the closing. The pilot, sounding a bit flustered, responded, “Okay. Yeah. Just, ah — We’ll follow up on that.”