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Plane lands safely following emergency

— An American Eagle regional jet originating from Dallas landed safely at Yampa Valley Regional Airport after declaring an emergency Thursday.

West Routt Fire Protection District firefighters were called to the airport at 11:45 a.m. for a plane that was experiencing problems with its flaps.

“They just said there was a problem with the descending equipment, and we circled for 30 minutes or so,” said Liz Morgan, who was traveling to Steamboat to visit family.

There were 58 passengers on the plane, and Morgan said they all got very quiet after the announcement was made. Everyone applauded when the plane landed safely.

Bob and Candy Shetler — also passengers on the flight — were on a trip to visit their daughter.

“They said the flaps wouldn’t go down,” Candy Shelter said. “He did a hell of a landing.”

Flaps are extended when a plane takes off and lands and allow planes to travel at slower speeds while maintaining lift.

The Shetlers said the captain slammed on the brakes after landing.

“You could smell the burnt rubber,” Candy Shelter said.

Fire engines and ambulances staged near the runway and waited for the plane to land.

“That’s when you realized it was serious,” Bob Shetler said.

After the passengers left YVRA, the pilot could be seen walking around the plane.

“It looked like a pretty normal landing,” YVRA Manager Kevin Booth said.

Booth said the airport was originally informed the plane was going to land without flaps, which would have meant a high-speed landing.

“Had he not been able to get his flaps to work, he would have had to burn off fuel before landing,” Booth said.

After the plane landed, Booth spoke to the pilot. The pilot said that, initially, neither the plane’s slats nor flaps would come down. Both pieces aid in descending.

The pilot was finally able to get the flaps to operate but landed without the slats extended.

Booth said the plane should have been able to land safely without flaps on YVRA’s 10,000-foot runway.

“Another nice thing about this airport is we have a nice, long runway,” Booth said.

Passengers who were waiting to board the plane for a return flight to Dallas were told there would be an hour delay.

A mechanic came out to inspect the plane.

Booth said the pilot believed it was a minor problem that involved resetting a switch.

To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247, email mstensland@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @SBTStensland


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