Brake problem leads to 180 degree spin upon landing
Three crew members aboard an air ambulance run by Maniilaq Medflight were shaken but not injured last week when the aircraft took a half-spin on the airstrip at Pioneer Field when the small plane came in for a landing.
Part of the plane, a Beech 200, ended up in a berm along the landing strip, causing unspecified minor damage.
The incident occurred Wednesday evening, January 2.
The medflight was attempting to land in foggy conditions and one of the brakes either froze or filled with slush and failed to work properly at landing.
“It happened right in front of me,” Steve Searles said in an interview Monday.
Searles, the airport’s manager, said he had just performed a friction test on the landing strip and was maybe 400 feet away from the Beech 200 at the time of the incident.
“He kind of spun a little bit and slid,” Searles said.
An ambulance from the Valdez Fire Department was waiting on the ground, where its crew had been waiting to taxi the aircrew to the hospital in Valdez to secure a patient for air transport to Anchorage.
Instead, the Valdez crew found itself rushing to the scene to possibly aid the air-crew inside the medflight.
Fortunately, the crew from the medflight were uninjured. After it was freed from the berm, the medflight was able to taxi its way off the airstrip on its own power.
Liz Webber, a ground weather observer on duty at the airport at the time, also witnessed the landing. She said the runway runs east to west, but the medflight landed “in a west approach,” with official weather conditions noted as “foggy.”
Webber, from a vantage point inside the second floor of the airport building, said the landing caused a large dust-up of snow, a fact backed up by Searles
“It did get dusty real quick,” he said.
Searles, who has worked at the airport for ADOT for 17 years, said it was the first incident of its kind he can recall that involved a medical flight.
The three crew members of the medflight later boarded an Anchorage-bound plane courtesy of Grant Aviation.
A second medflight arrived Thursday morning to fly the Valdez patient to Anchorage for further medical treatments.
In Valdez, only doctors can request medflights for patients needing medical treatment, according to George Keeney, Valdez Fire Chief.
“In our community, it’s strictly the doctors,” Keeney said. “They call for an air ambulance.”
It is presumed the Valdez patient was safely transported to Anchorage on the second flight.
Keeney said the original plane left Pioneer Field on its own power and safely landed in Anchorage Friday.