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Plane, missing wheel, makes emergency landing at SRQ

Emergency crews respond to the scene where an aircraft made an emergency landing at Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport on Friday evening. The twin-engine plane skidded into the grass after attempting to land without a left rear wheel.
Emergency crews respond to the scene where an aircraft made an emergency landing at Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport on Friday evening. The twin-engine plane skidded into the grass after attempting to land without a left rear wheel. zwittman@bradenton.com

A twin-engine jet, missing a wheel from its landing gear, safely made an emergency landing with four people aboard at Sarasota Bradenton International Airport late Friday afternoon.

Four people, believed to be the pilot and three passengers, exited the plane and appeared unharmed after it skidded to a harrowing stop into the turf along the runway’s edge.

The plane, owned by Pilot Leasing Inc. of Carson City, Nev., was originally scheduled to land in Tampa Friday afternoon after taking off from Belize, according to FlightAware.com.

The aircraft’s landing gear was missing its left wheel, according to Mark Stuckey, the airport’s senior vice president and chief operating officer. A distress call came in just before 5 p.m.

The plane circled over the Gulf of Mexico to burn fuel before landing at SRQ around 5:45 p.m. Excess fuel is burned off to reduce the danger of fire when landing, Suckey explained.

When the plane landed, it touched down smoothly in the center of the runway. It began to drift to the left and sparks flew as the strut, missing the wheel, scraped against the pavement.

The plane drifted toward the left side of the runway then off into the turf before spinning slightly in the grass and coming to a sudden stop.

Four people, three men and one woman, could be seen running out of the plane’s door as emergency vehicles arrived at the scene. Stuckey said he was unaware of any injuries. Aviationdb.com says the plan seats 10 and has a cruising speed of 390 mph.

The pilot did a flyby at SRQ so air-traffic controllers could determine the nature of the problem with the landing gear before touching down, according to FOX 13 reports.

A crane is required to remove the plane from the runway, according to FOX 13.

Sara Nealeigh: 941-745-7081, @saranealeigh

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