Photo courtesy Loren Webb
(St. George, UT) - Dana Henderson, special projects editor for Air Transport World, was aboard a SkyWest Airlines flight to St. George on May 17, 1983, when a strange thing happened. Henderson was flying to Utah’s Dixie to write an article about SkyWest’s expanded commuter service, and two SkyWest officials were waiting to greet her when pilot Neil Brown brought the plane in for what would turn out to be an unusual landing. The plane was right on time and it would have been a smooth landing – except the pilot forgot to put the landing gear down. When Brown’s twin engine Piper Navajo landed at St. George Airport on a Tuesday afternoon, it came in on a grinding skid. There were no injuries, but the plan sustained fifty thousand dollars in damages, a SkyWest official said. “It was a very smooth landing” despite the still retracted landing gear, a SkyWest official said. “This is the first accident I’ve ever had, said Brown, employed with SkyWest for one and a half years. Brown was suspended, subject to review of the accident. Did he forget to lower the landing gear? “That was pretty much it” Brown said. Henderson said that at the time of the landing she thought to herself, “boy, that’s one of the smoothest landings I’ve ever seen – except for the noise”. The plane slid about 500 feet before coming to rest on the runway. “There was a grinding of metal when the props hit the runway”, Henderson said.” I thought, “Gee, that’s awful embarrassing”. SkyWest, however, survived that embarrassing incident and now is the largest regional commuter air carrier in the nation.