Bizjet Crew Demonstrates a Near-Perfect Emergency Landing

Solid knowledge of aerodynamics and the aircraft paid off for Westwind pilots.

A U.S.-registered Israeli Aircraft Industries Westwind 1124 on Friday lost the wheel from its left main landing gear during takeoff from Goldson International Airport in Belize. The crew was made aware of the problem immediately after departure, but rather than risk an emergency landing in Belize with a heavy fuel load, they decided a landing in the United States was the better option.

The original flight plan listed Tampa International as its destination, with an arrival time of approximately 5 p.m. local time. Enroute to Tampa, the crew decided to land early and diverted to Sarasota Bradenton Airport south of TPA.

The Westwind circled over the Gulf of Mexico near Sarasota for nearly an hour to burn off excess fuel before making one low-altitude pass near the SRQ control tower to give air traffic controllers an opportunity to take a look at the state of the landing gear.

Shortly after, the crew performed a textbook arrival that was caught on video. The aircraft touched down on centerline until the left main, without a wheel, impacted the surface of the runway, dragging the airplane to the left before the Westwind stopped in the grass alongside runway. There was no post-impact fire, nor were any of the four people on board injured during the emergency. The extent of the damage to the Westwind manufactured in 1976 is still unknown.