Charter jet slips off runway at airport

Volunteers including Grant County Regional Airport personnel and members of the John Day Rappel Team help get an errant Citation-5 charter jet back on the runway after the airplane's wheel slipped off the tarmac prior to takeoff Wednesday evening. Photo by Jeremy Judd

JOHN DAY - Eight tourists along with a puppy and a hamster got an unexpected layover at the Grant County Regional Airport Wednesday, June 30, after their chartered jet got stuck in the soft dirt at the south end of the runway.

At about 6:30 p.m. the Citation-5 aircraft, which airport director Tom Switzer said had been chartered out of the San Francisco Bay area, was in the process of turning around in preparation to take off when a wheel on the left landing gear slipped off the edge of the runway and became mired in the soft dirt.

"The pilot was a first-time visitor to our airport and was bringing in some people who were spending the Fourth of July in the Dale area," Switzer said.

"He got a little close to the left shoulder of the runway and put the landing gear in the dirt."

Switzer, along with Gary Judd, members of the John Day Rappel Team and Randy Stovall's four-wheel-drive vehicle then went to work.

"We managed to manhandle the airplane back on the runway," Switzer said.

"It took us about an hour and a half to get the job done and then he went on his way."

Switzer reported there was no damage to the airplane, and no injuries were suffered due to the mishap.

"The only damage was to the pilot's ego," he said.

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