Private Jet Skids Off Runway at Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport

A pilot was forced to make an emergency landing after the plane’s wheel fell off mid-air.

The four onboard the Eagle 8 aircraft were lucky to be alive after sparks could be seen coming from one of the back wheels of the plane as it span off the runway at Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport in Florida on Friday afternoon.

Three men, including the pilot, and a woman could be seen running out of the plane door to safety as emergency services raced to the scene.

No-one was injured, but those on board the twin-engine plane were shaken by what happened.

Rick Piccolo, airport president and chief executive, said: “They were returning from Belize. The aircraft is based here at Dolphin Aviation, and everyone walked away from it.

“They refused any medical attention.

“They said they were fine, shook up obviously but they said they were fine.”

The drama unfolded when the left wheel disappeared from the landing gear of the 10-seater plane, which has a cruising speed of 390mph, after jetting off from Belize in Central America.

A distress call came in just before 5pm, according to Mark Stuckey, the airport’s senior vice president and chief operating officer.

The pilot was forced to carry out fuel-burning manoeuvres over the Gulf of Mexico before attempting the dramatic landing in a bid to curb the danger of the plane bursting into flames, according to Mr Stuckey.

He had to do a flyby at the airport to allow air-traffic controllers could work out the nature of the problem with the plane’s landing gear before giving the green light to touch down at the site.

Originally, the plane, which is owned by Pilot Leasing Inc., had been destined to land in Tampa, Florida, on Friday afternoon.

A crane had to be drafted into the airport to remove the plane from off the runway.

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