No one was injured when a corporate Learjet veered off the runway upon landing at the Aspen/Pitkin County Airport on Thursday.
After touching ground, the aircraft left the runway and came to a stop near the Airport Operations Center approximately 150 feet from the center line of the runway.
The aircraft’s landing gear was reportedly broken and there was fuel leaking from the plane. The incident occurred at 12:24 p.m.
As firefighters hosed down the plane, the group of evacuated passengers stood on the tarmac across the runway discussing the incident.
“It was really scary,” said Gigi Whitman, a part-time Aspen resident who was one of eight people on board.
The Whitman family, including two children, two of the children’s friends and the family bulldogs Petunia and Elvis were flying into Aspen from Miami for the summer.
The family has made two annual trips to Aspen for years, and this was the first time they had a bad experience, said Whitman, who was admittedly shaken.
At first, they thought it was just turbulence, but as they landed everyone realized something wasn’t right, Whitman said.
They were lucky, she added.
Meanwhile, the children joked about the experience.
“I was laughing the whole time,” said one young passenger.
The airport was closed immediately after the incident and reopened at 5 p.m. while the wreckage and leaking fuel were cleared from the runway. Some incoming flights were diverted to the Eagle airport.
“We are fortunate that this appears to have been a relatively minor incident. No word yet on what caused it. We are relieved that no one was hurt,” said airport director Jim Elwood.
The cause of the incident is unknown at this time and remains under investigation.