LAGUARDIA AIRPORT (PIX11) – Pilots will readily tell you takeoffs and landings are routinely the most challenging segments of a flight. The director of aviation here at LaGuardia airport says it doesn’t appear the flight crew knew they had a problem with their front landing gear. So you can imagine how 146-passengers on board the plane reacted when their ordinary Monday evening was suddenly filled with drama as the plane hit the tarmac hard and slid down the runway.
Bryan Foster didn’t have a crystal ball during his time on board Southwest Airlines Flight 345.
But his timing was impeccable, as he kept rolling on his video camera, just as the Boeing 737 came in for a hard landing at LaGuardia Airport’s runway number four with no front landing gear.
He told PIX11, “We’re just approaching, we’re just coming in for a landing. I’m just filming with my go pro, out the window. And then we hit. That was the impact. It knocked the camera out of my hand. So I had to gather myself. So now i’m looking around. I’m looking around the cabin now and wondering what’s going on. I put the camera back out the window, and as you can see the engine is sparking as we skidded across the tarmac.”
Thomas Bosco, the interim director of aviation for the Port Authority which operates the airport, said the NTSB is on the scene investigating a cause for the emergency landing.
Ten passengers were treated at the scene with minor injuries, and six others were taken to an area hospital with various, undisclosed injuries.
“I’m not aware of any call made by the pilot with a problem with the landing gear,” Bosco told reporters.
Director Bosco says a preliminary investigation shows the plane’s landing gear was actually extended – and ready for use, when – for some reason…it collapsed upon hitting the tarmac.
It wasn’t until it was all over, that Callista Foster, visiting with her family from their native Baton Rouge, Louisiana, took a breath, and realized she had just beaten the odds.
“Two oxygen masks did fall in the back, the very back part. After the hard hit, he did assure everyone to calm down, everything is going to be OK,” Foster said.
Port authority officials say travelers can expect major delays here at LaGuardia because flight 345 — with its broken front landing gear — left a long debris field, and a long gauge in the tarmac of runway four. It will remain closed while it’s cleaned up and repaired and is expected to reopen sometime Tuesday.