Passenger plane missing wheel makes dramatic emergency landing in Florida

Emily Shugerman

A plane has made a dramatic emergency landing in Florida after the pilot realised it was missing a wheel.

Sarasota Bradenton International Airport received a distress call from the plane’s pilot just before 5pm (10pm BST), an airport official told The Independent. The flight, which originated in Belize, was slated to land in Tampa at 6pm (11pm BST) on Friday.

The official said the plane had lost its left main gear wheel on takeoff.

The pilot circled the Gulf of Mexico to burn off excess fuel before landing, officials told the Bradenton Herald. This is done to reduce the risk of fire upon touchdown.

The plane finally landed just before 6pm (11pm BST), skidding down the runway and shooting sparks in its wake. The plane started straight and then careened left, finally stopping in a patch of grass to the side of the runway.

The three passengers and pilot exited the plane unharmed.

The plane incurred minimal damage, according to Steve John, customer service manager at Dolphin Aviation, where the plane is stored. The biggest issue, Mr John told The Independent, was digging the aircraft out of the grass.

Flight records show the plane is a IAI 1124 Westwind jet, owned by Pilot Leasing Inc. Mr John said airport officials in Belize are still looking for the plane’s missing wheel.

A live video of the landing posted to local News Channel 8’s Facebook page has been viewed almost 200,000 times.