Plane’s Wing Kisses The Concrete

May 13, 2009

in Airplane Stories

I was flying from Memphis, through Pittsburgh, on my way to ABE to attend my uncle’s funeral. I was not in a particularly cheerful mood, especially since he was my only uncle and I loved him a lot. USAir had upgraded me to 1A and the flight was uneventful, although delayed out of Memphis because of a flat tire. Uneventful until we touched down in Pittsburgh. Suddenly the plane started vibrating, then shaking, then as I looked out the window, the right wing kissed the concrete in a shower of sparks. We skidded down the runway, sparks flying, tires screaming, folks hollering and feeling like we were in a mix-master until the plane came to a final stop. There was silence for a moment, eerie almost, until the captain ordered the doors open on the right side, chutes deployed and all passengers to exit.

I was among the first off and helped other passengers get up and get moving at the bottom of the chute. I couldn’t stop from looking over my shoulder every once in awhile at that wing, no more than a foot from the grass, still on the concrete. The entire landing gear assembly on that side was gone, lying in ditch back along the runway. I mean it broke right off! No wonder the wing tip was down. The pilot kept that wing away from the soft dirt and an almost certain cart wheel had the wing dug in. Quite a job of steering I’d say.

While I have great admiration and thankfulness for that crew, USAir’s maintenance is another story. And you know, after writing customer service and being an elite flyer on USAir at the time, I never heard a word from the airline. Hmmmm.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

SAW May 20, 2009 at 5:38 pm

I wonder sometimes, how USAir manages to GET elite flyers… I certainly wouldn't fly them based on the many terrible experiences I had with them in the past. That they're still in business is a miracle.


Anonymous May 21, 2009 at 4:34 am

If you are sitting in 1A, how were you able to see the right wing? Fake.


Anonymous August 6, 2009 at 12:46 pm

just because the gear failed does NOT make it a maintenance issue, there are a lot of reasons – previous unreported hard landings, manufacturing defect etc…


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