FT. LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – A plane in trouble after takeoff from Ft. Lauderdale Executive Airport Wednesday morning tried to return, but as it landed the plane slid off the runway, crossed an airport perimeter road, and nearly nosed into an access road for Lockhart Stadium. Nobody was hurt, but investigators are trying to figure out what happened.
Kathleen Bergen, a spokesperson for the Federal Aviation Administration, said the Cessna Citation jet was taking off from Executive Airport just before 10 a.m. when the pilot reported some type of problem.
From the moment the private jet took off, banking violently, the passengers on board knew something was wrong.
“The plane went like this,” said Alexandra Graterol gesturing with her hand, “They didn’t know what was happening.”
Graterol’s family from Venezuela was on board the plane heading for the Teterboro Airport in New Jersey. She said they were afraid they weren’t going to make it.
“The husband of my mother said ‘We’re going to crash’, that was it. And pilot didn’t say anything. His friend was screaming ‘Nose down, nose down, nose down’,” said Graterol.
That’s around the same time the pilot radioed Fort Lauderdale Executive airport’s tower, saying there was trouble in the air and asked to return.
Moments later airplane mechanic John Costello said he saw the jet just as it was about to touch down.
“We seen it coming down the runway way too fast, the wheels were smoking when it hit the ground, I think the wing tip actually touched the runway once and kept going,” said Costello.
“I was in my office working then all of a sudden I heard the large engines and it sounded like a 747 right behind our building,” said Brian Weisz with an air ambulance business at the airport.
The jet shot through the overshoot area, through a field, and through a fence along the airport road.
Dwayne Brown, who was working in a hanger further down the runway, said he knew that plane would run out of runway before it could stop.
“It just hit off the runway and just kept going all the way down. It got to the first fence and you hear a big loud pop and it went through one fence, on the other side of the road and then it just hit the ditch,” said Brown.
A second fence stopped it from leaving the airport property.
None of the six passengers onboard the plane were injured and all were able to leave the jet without help.
City of Ft. Lauderdale spokesman Matt Little said the front wheel of the plane was knocked off when it hit the fence, and there appeared to be some damage to the nose.
There was no apparent fuel leak, and no fire.