BELIZE CITY, Tues. May 2, 2017–Two pilots and two passengers who departed Belize at about 1:05 p.m. local time on Friday, April 28, landed safely in Sarasota, Florida, after the plane lost its left main gear wheel on take-off in Belize.
Nigel Carter, Chief Operations Officer at the Belize Civil Aviation Department, told Amandala that there were 4 US nationals, 3 males and 1 female, on the non-commercial flight, which could have been for leisure or business.
Belizean authorities contacted relevant authorities in the US to inform them that the plane, which was out of Belize’s airspace within 15 to 20 minutes, had lost a wheel.
Carter said that the missing wheel was later found on the airport premises, off one of the sides of the runway. He told us that they will be working with the US in the event they wish to be provided with all the relevant information.
According to US news reports, Sarasota Bradenton International Airport received a distress call from the plane’s pilot on Friday, just before 5:00 p.m., an hour before the plane was scheduled to land. The pilot circled the Gulf of Mexico to burn off excess fuel that could have proved hazardous by causing an inferno on landing, due to the sparks generated from the friction of the wheel-less axle on the runway.
Shortly after touchdown, the plane careened left, onto a patch of grass at the airport, but no one was hurt.
Damage to the plane was minimal, the reports said, citing Steve John, customer service manager at Dolphin Aviation, where the plane is stored.
The 10-seater, 2-engine craft was built in 1976 by Israel Aircraft Industries and it has been owned by Pilot Leasing Inc of Carson City, Nevada, USA, since 2013.