Steamboat Springs A sudden and strong gust of wind sent a private plane about 600 feet off the runway while it was in the process of landing at Yampa Valley Regional Airport on Sunday afternoon. The pilot and passengers all emerged safe.
Yampa Valley Regional Airport Manager Dave Ruppel said the day’s complex winds were a factor, based on the pilot’s report after the crash.
“It was a private plane coming in, based out of Steamboat. The winds were bad enough at Steamboat that they came out to Hayden, and he was just making a normal approach to the runway,” Ruppel said. “He was just touching down and got hit by a big wind gust, lost control and ran through the grassy areas, across the taxiway and down through a fence.”
The single-engine plane was a Beechcraft Bonanza, and it sustained significant damage. It came to rest just in front of a marshy area off the runway. The passengers were able to get out on the wing and, according to Ruppel, “didn’t even get muddy.”
“It was one of those days where mostly the wind was blowing right down the runway at pretty high speed, and every once in a while, we’d get some pretty strong gusts at more of a cross angle,” he said. “From what the pilot said, that’s what caught him. Smaller planes have a hard time overcoming something like that. It won’t have quite as much impact for big commercial airliners because they have enough weight they can overcome it.”
In fact, a commercial flight took off on time soon afterward, as soon as the runway was checked for debris. The runway only was closed for several minutes.
Ruppel said the National Transportation Safety Board would be at the site Monday to investigate.
To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 970-871-4253, email jreichenberger@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @JReich9
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