An American Eagle flight that departed for Dallas at 12:30 p.m. Sunday was forced to return to the Durango-La Plata County Airport after experiencing mechanical problems.
“It took off normally,” said airport spokesman Don Brockus, “and about 15 minutes in, the pilot contacted Denver Center and said he was having difficulty with the yaw. He declared an emergency.”
The yaw is side-to-side movement on an airplane.
Passenger Doug Ivey told his wife, Christie, they heard “a loud pop” after takeoff.
American Airlines spokesman Matt Miller confirmed the mechanical difficulties, but didn’t say what the specific problem was.
“As soon as he turned around, he did tell our firefighters he did feel he was in emergency conditions,” Brockus said about the pilot, “and the firefighters declared an Alert 1, the lowest level, and brought other mutual-aid partners in to be on standby. We rolled out trucks as a precaution.”
The firefighters said the landing visually appeared normal, but Ivey said it didn’t feel that way.
“He said the landing was really rough and turbulent,” Christie Ivey said about her husband’s phone call. “He said it felt like the pilot couldn’t use the rudder, like he was having to steer with the flaps.”
Brockus said the standby ambulance and firetruck didn’t even make it to the airport before they were called off.
Passengers waited at the airport for more than five hours for a new plane, eventually departing at 6:45 p.m.