No one was injured when a TriState CareFlight crash-landed in Denver in frigid conditions earlier this week.
The plane was transporting a mother and baby from Cortez to Centennial Airport in southern Denver on Tuesday night.
The crew included Durango residents Michael Schlarb, pilot; Andy Archer, nurse; and Mike Serro, medic; as well as a student who was training to be a flight nurse.
During the final flight check, the light on the nose gear didnt come on, Scott Stamper, the vice president of business development for TriState said. He circled the airport several times, and it just wouldnt go down. They explained to the mother what was going to happen and went in.
Stamper said it helped that the runway was snowpacked, which cushioned the landing.
Mike used up most of the runway bleeding off speed and then came down on the nose and slid about 200 feet further, he said.
TriStates maintenance crew flew to Denver on Wednesday morning, moved the plane into a hangar and investigated what might have made the nose gear stick.
They think the actuator didnt release, Stamper said. Those are supposed to have 70 months on them, and this one still had 20 months to go, so were not sure what happened.
Stamper doubted the cold weather played a role in the landing gears failure.
Airplanes fly at 20,000, 25,000 feet, he said It gets really cold at that altitude. They certainly have temperature limitations, both high and low, but those Denver temperatures are probably within the range.
Schlarb also tried to hand-crank the nose gear down, but the stuck actuator meant that didnt work either.
The pilot did everything right, Stamper said, by the book. If he hadnt feathered the prop just right, it could have destroyed the engine and led to a million dollars worth of damage.
As it stands now, Papa Hotel Care Flight 30, the twin-engine turboprop, will need only new propellers and body work on the nose.
The plane may be back in the air in about three weeks.
Stamper said the Federal Aviation Administration had classified the crash landing as an incident, not an accident, because there werent any injuries or other aircraft involved.
I was talking to Andy (Wednesday), Stamper said. He said Scott, we practiced for this. We went through all those procedures, and thats why everything turned out so well.
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