Wednesday, June 26, 2019

3:10 to Yuma makes Emergency Landing

The last leg of the trip back from Australia to Yuma, Arizona, U.S.A. was from Phoenix to Yuma. The departure time of the flight was 3:10, making the flight the 3:10 to Yuma, a reference to the movie of that name.

My flight from Los Angeles to Phoenix was  a few minutes behind schedule. The flight to Yuma had been changed to the A Concourse, but I knew the drill. Hot foot it from the B Concourse at the Phoenix Airport to the A Concourse. It was several minutes at a fast walk. I made it before the 3:10 started boarding, but not by much.

My seatmate was a bright and pleasant retired grandmother who made lovely conversation. Interesting seatmates are a wonderful thing, even on short flights.

I looked out the window as we approached Yuma, and noted we were on a mildly divergent flight path from what I was used to. Then came the announcement: our forward landing gear had blown a tire on takeoff. The crew was working through the possibilities.

We flew about a bit, once relatively low and slow over the airfield. The word came back: it wasn't the front gear that had blown the tire, but one of the main, rear landing gears.

Not good.

We burned a bit more fuel as the flight crew prepared us, the pilot considered contingencies, and the emergency ground responders got into place.

My seatmate texted her husband. Pray, she wrote.

I was doing my bit with him. I asked God to grant the pilot skill. It was in their hands.

We took up the braced positions a minute or two before landing, on the pilots instruction: Brace, Brace, Brace.

They are not the most comfortable position to hold, even for a couple of minutes. The passengers and crew were the epitome of grace under pressure.

No one panicked, no screams, just doing what could be done.

The landing was a good one. Everyone walked away from it. We landed on the long and broad military runway at the Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS).  After the plane was inspected, and corporate level decision makers approved,  the pilot was able to taxi to the Yuma terminal.   MCAS shares some facilities with the Yuma International Airport.

It was a lovely 98 degrees Fahrenheit in Yuma, a mild summer day. Even dressed for Australian winter, it was reasonably comfortable in the shade. I did not have to wait outside the Airport for long before my friend showed up in my vehicle, as we had planned the pickup before I left for Australia.

Adventures are when the plan fails. This was a mild and short adventure, an interesting anecdote to tell friends and grandchildren.  It could have been much worse.

The timing of the departure 3:10, made it a bit more memorable.

©2019 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice and link are included.

Gun Watch


Anonymous said...

Welcome back Dean. My older brother had a landing experience He told us about. His plane from Camron Bay to Da Nang. Every one had weapons and ammo the plane slowed down with the back opened up they were told to jump and immediately run to the right and get behind a sand bagged wall. the air strip was under fire and there were numerous simpers. the plane continued down the run way and took off. I watched some plane unload the wheels touched down with a bump and they lined up the load with the last load on the runway and were back in the air as the load hit the ground. several loads were in line less than 20 feet apart. Good Pilots. First week in country I was introduced to the M-60, Not recommended for deer hunting and the barrel starts to glow after 3,000 rounds. 15 cans of ammo hooked together saves time.

ironhorzmn said...

Welcome to Yuma!
Foothills Year-Round Resident

Pat Ring said...

Any landing you can walk away from...

Glad you are safe, Dean.

Marshall said...


I used to work in our aircraft tire division. Most tires with a blowout on takeoff or landing are due to foreign object damage. Not to make anyone worry more than they already do while flying, but pieces of aircraft commonly shake loose onto the runway. Hitting one of pieces at high speed easily cuts the tire. If the damage is great enough the tire loses air and/or fails. Aircraft tires are tough, but not indestructible. It is with good reason that there are two or more tires at each position on larger aircraft. As your picture shows, the aircraft can safely land on just one tire. It definitely beats landing on a rim.


ExpatNJ said...

I am thankful that you made it back safely, Dean.

"3:10 To Yuma". I see what you did there.
Well, at least you did not have a shoot-out upon landing too ...

"Travel's a curse" - 'Master Of The House', Les Misérables, Broadway.