Crash landing closes Sardy Field |

Crash landing closes Sardy Field

Janet Urquhart
A private jet lies crippled on the side of the Pitkin County Airport near Aspen, Colo., after one of its landing gear caught fire and collapsed Thursday afternoon February 9, 2006. (AP Photo/The Aspen Times, Paul Conrad)
AP | The Aspen Times

A private jet crash-landed at Aspen’s airport Thursday, closing down the runway for two hours and affecting travelers on several commercial flights. No one was hurt.A Challenger jet’s right-side landing gear collapsed upon touchdown about 1 p.m. The airport was alerted to the jet’s mechanical troubles moments before it landed, according to Jim Elwood, airport director.The aircraft’s right wing hit the ground, and the jet skidded the length of the runway before coming to a stop at the end of the landing strip, according to a witness.

There were reportedly two pilots and a passenger on board.The National Transportation Safety Board was notified of the accident, but investigators with the agency, which examines airplane crashes and incidents, are not expected to inspect the disabled plane in person.”They asked us to take pictures, and we will forward them, but we don’t expect them to come physically to the airport,” Elwood said. Insurance inspectors, however, are likely to come take a look at the aircraft, he added.

A maintenance crew with Trajen FBO Network, the private base operation at the Aspen-Pitkin County Airport, cleared the jet from the runway, but during the shutdown, one Northwest flight to Minneapolis was canceled and 20 passengers were bused to Denver.In addition, the incident delayed two United flights’ departures to Denver, and three inbound United flights from Denver arrived late – one by close to three hours. The delays affected the flight schedule for the rest of the day. A Northwest flight from Minneapolis was diverted to Grand Junction, and its passengers were bused to Aspen.

Aspen resident Alex Krys, who landed on the private aircraft that touched down immediately before the disabled plane, said he’d never seen anything like what unfolded 30 feet in front of him, as he loaded his luggage into a vehicle.Fire trucks were on the scene quickly, but there were no flames, Krys said. Another witness, however, said the plane was emitting black smoke as it landed.Krys said he was surprised by how long it took the plane’s occupants to exit the aircraft. It was a while before the door opened, he said.”I was surprised they couldn’t get out faster. I would have been out of that plane pretty quickly,” Krys said.