A United Airlines commercial flight carrying 66 passengers and four crew members landed safely about 1 p.m. Wednesday at the Durango-La Plata County Airport after reporting it had a flat tire that blew out upon takeoff from Denver International Airport.
Pilots on the United Express flight, operated by SkyWest, notified the airport at 12:20 p.m. that it had a possible flat tire. It circled the Durango airport for several minutes before it landed safely at 12:59 p.m. Emergency responders closed the runway for about 22 minutes before and after the landing so they could look for tire debris.
Before it landed, the plane – a Bombadier CRJ-700 – made a low-flying pass over the runway with its landing gear down to allow emergency responders to inspect the tires. During the flyby, authorities confirmed the plane had a flat tire on the rear left.
Once it landed, passengers were quickly ushered into the terminal instead of waiting by the plane to collect their luggage.
Wayne Roberts, a passenger, said the pilot notified everyone that they likely blew a tire while leaving Denver International Airport. The pilot said he did not think the landing in Durango would be a problem, but the flight crew reviewed the safety instructions with those on board, said Roberts, who lives in Venice, Florida, but has a second home in Durango.
Roberts said the landing was uneventful. He said the pilot flew the plane slowly, and it smoothly touched down on the tarmac. Passengers applauded upon landing. Roberts’ wife, Karen, said passengers were calm and everything was handled professionally.
“No one was crying or screaming or anything like that,” she said.
Passengers Rick Donham of Moab, Utah, and Sue Berkhahn of Durango were on the flight after spending the last month in Hawaii. “It turned out to be the smoothest landing ever,” Donham said. “Sue and I looked at each other and kind of had those ‘safe tears’ in our eyes.”