Los Angeles (CA) – Helicopters, news vans and curious onlookers. It’s not the latest Los Angeles car chase, but the landing of a troubled American Airlines passenger jet at the Los Angeles International Airport. The pilot of the Boeing 737-800 reported trouble with the left main landing gear and tires shortly after takeoff. After approximately 40 minutes of troubleshooting, flight 1586 safely landed with fleets of red and fluorescent green fire trucks lining the runway.
Flaps still down at AA terminal
Initial reports stated that the left main tire either blew or shredded on takeoff. After takeoff, the pilot flew over the Pacific Ocean and circled above Catalina Island to troubleshoot and burn off fuel since the Boeing 737 family of jets cannot dump fuel. Just before 1 PM Pacific time, the plane landed safely on runway 25-right. Despite the reports of a blown tire, we saw that the tires seemed fine and the plane taxied like normal back to the American Airlines terminal with a fleet of fire trucks following close behind.
Blown tires may sound catastrophic and to the general public, a disaster just waiting to happen, but they are surprisingly common events. Pilots trains for these things all the time and in this case, the American Airlines pilot didn’t even declare an emergency Furthermore, air traffic control continued sequencing planes as if everything was OK. But what was interesting to see was the throng of microwave dished news trucks, reporters and cameramen lining “Aviation Hill”, a popular photography spot just south of LAX airport. Hovering noisily above was the KTLA/CRW helicopter, while LAPD motorcycle officers tried in vain to control the mob of people clogging traffic and parking in red zones. Ahh…. a typical LA news event.
Sure the real story here is that nothing happened and that all the people on the airplane are safe, but there is something else to talk about. While all the broadcast and local news trucks were speeding to the scene (trust me, I was following one when it almost tipped over rounding a corner), the street was already lined up with seasoned members of Airliners.net, an insanely popular plane-spotting website. These guys and gals come to LAX and other airports almost every day and photograph their favorite jumbo jets. In many cases, the camera hardware carried by these “plane spotters” rivals that of traditional media outlets. In fact, the Airliners.net forum was running an almost live thread of the plane’s ails and members will no doubt have their pictures up very soon.
For now, here’s our set of shots.