SCOTTSBLUFF — An engine didn’t fall off. There wasn’t a crash. But an airplane did make an emergency landing at the Western Nebraska Regional Airport on Wednesday evening.
Aerodynamics Flight 217 safely landed in Scottsbluff about 6:15 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 9. Shortly after taking off in Denver, the 50-passenger jet lost power in one of its two engines.
“They were only about 20 miles away from here so it was a logical choice to land here,” said Darwin Skelton, airport manager.
The sound residents on the ground heard likely came from the engine as it stopped working. While the plane could have continued with only one engine, it was safer to attempt a landing.
“Their plane can fly on one (engine) but they don’t like to because it’s hard on them,” Skelton said.
Three crew members and 46 passengers arrived safely at the airport after the pilot declared an emergency. Skelton said an emergency was called in case something happened to the plane. The plane, however, landed safely and taxied over to the ramp where passengers deboarded and the task of accommodating crew and passengers began.
While airport staff worked to help passengers, Airport Board Member Matt Ziegler ordered and picked up pizza for the passengers.
“He bought close to a dozen pizzas, pop and water,” Skelton said. “No one left hungry.”
Passengers rented cars from Hertz and Enterprise. Several took a Denver Coach to continue their journey to Pierre, a five hour and 32 minute, 327 mile car ride away. Finding local accommodations was more difficult. Skelton said 13 or 14 hotels were called but only four rooms were available. Three people stayed at the Days Inn in Scottsbluff and one person stayed at the Monument Inn and Suites in Gering.
While the airport can handle large planes, Skelton said the landing strip could comfortably handle 757 or 767.
The aircraft was on its way to Watertown, South Dakota, with a stop scheduled in Pierre, South Dakota. Skelton said the plane will likely be in Scottsbluff for a while until repairs can be made.