YVRA reopens after plane slide stops flights | SteamboatToday.com

YVRA reopens after plane slide stops flights

Crews spend night moving executive jet after slide before take-off late Friday; no injuries

Mike Lawrence

— Yampa Valley Regional Air­­port Manager Dave Ruppel said he expects little to no impacts for passengers at the Hayden airport today after a private jet slid off a runway late Friday and closed the airport to flights until about noon Saturday.

Airport officials said no injuries or significant damage occurred after the jet, a Gulfstream IV based in Connecticut, experienced eng­ine troubles while trying to take off and slid into mud between the airport's active runway and taxiway at about 10:30 p.m. Friday.

Crews worked overnight to move the jet out of an area that prevented incoming or outgoing flights on one of the busiest tourism weekends of the winter.

The Steamboat Springs Cham­­­ber Resort Association is forecasting about 12,000 visitors in Steamboat Springs for Presidents Day weekend.

Assistant Airport Manager Dean Smith said United Air­­­lines canceled one Saturday morning flight from Denver. Continental also canceled a Saturday flight from Newark, N.J. A couple other flights were prepared to divert to Denver but landed at YVRA once the runway was opened, Smith said. He estimated that 200 passengers were directly affected.

Ruppel said Saturday evening that flights and schedules were back on track.

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"As far as I know, the only carryover is that the Newark flight … decided to reschedule and come in (today)," he said. "It didn't have as much of a negative impact as we thought it might."

Smith said the Gulfstream IV was based in Norwich, Conn., arrived from that area and had dropped off some passengers before preparing to take off for California.

Smith said one engine overpowered a second, faulty engine during the takeoff attempt, forcing the jet into a spin and causing it to slide off the runway.

"It wasn't necessarily a pilot error thing, it was just a mechanical situation that happened," Smith said.

He said the slide was not weather-related. Smith and Ruppel said the name of the plane's owner was not released.

A pilot, co-pilot and flight attendant were on board, Smith said.

Crews led by Smith and Ruppel were at YVRA all night Friday and early Saturday working to move the jet and re-open the airport to flights.

Smith credited YVRA maintenance superintendent Todd DuBois; public safety director and fire chief Tyler Whitmore; and Don Kaplan, of Galaxy Avi­­ation, the airport's fixed-base operator, with their work to manage the jet-moving effort.

"All of those guys did an incredible job," Smith said Saturday.

He said the jet slid into mud as much as 10 inches deep.

"We had to actually jack the aircraft up using airbags, to get the wheels up out of the mud," Smith said. "We had to build a plywood road out of the mud."

He described this particular Gulfstream IV as "a $28 million jet" that could hold as many as about 20 passengers.

"It's an executive-type airplane," Smith said. "It's a very plush, luxurious way to transport."

— To reach Mike Lawrence, call 970-871-4233 or e-mail mlawrence@SteamboatToday.com

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