(WFLA) — An 8 On Your Side exclusive: For the first time, we’re hearing from the pilot who was at the controls of a business jet that made an emergency landing Friday, at Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport, without a wheel or tire.
The drama played out with Eagle 8 HD capturing the event live as viewers held their breath.
On the way back from Belize, the pilot and co-pilot got the bad news: they left a wheel on the runway.
Chief Pilot, Jeff Sack, watched the video from Eagle 8 HD from on the ground, as he guided the crippled jet in for a landing.
“You can see the stump for gear,” said Sack.
There is a metal stump where the wheel and tire should be.
“I tried to keep it up as long as possible, and then as we slowed up, this thing started dragging us to the left, and co-pilot and I were on the rudder,” said Sack.
As the plane slowed down, it drifted left.
“At the point it started drifting, we really had no control over the aircraft, it was gonna do what it wanted to do,” he said.
He considered coming in without gear, doing a belly landing. He even thought about ditching in the Gulf.
As it turned out, he made the right decision, but a catastrophic spin out was in the back of his mind.
“That could have happened when that stump hit the runway too, and we could have just cart-wheeled down the runway at ya know, 100 knots. That would have not been pretty either,” he said.
As he left Belize, Sack had no idea the twin-engine jet had any troubles.
At first, the Belize tower told him a piece of the engine fell off, then they changed it to a tow bar. Later, he learned the entire wheel was gone, and a fly-by the Sarasota tower confirmed it.
“There is no checklist for losing a wheel,” said Sack.
A visit to the hanger where the jet is stored reveals a plane fully intact. The dirt-encrusted gear strut is the only apparent damage.
“I’ve got about 6,000 flight hours, and this is, there’s only two times I’ve been scared,” said Sack.
Jeff Sack, his co-pilot and two passengers made it out just fine.
“I hope I never have to go through that again,” he said.
Jeff Sack’s day job is a cardiologist at Sarasota Memorial Hospital.STORIES THAT OTHERS ARE CLICKING ON-
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