As diners lunched at the Crosswinds Restaurant on Aug. 23, they heard a stream of fire trucks headed toward the airport runway.
They quickly learned why.
Airport Coordinator Dennis Dueker had contacted the pilot of a plane to report the plane’s gear doors were ajar and the landing gear was not locked, according to the Aug. 26 town manager’s report.
“After several attempts by the pilot to remedy the issue, he radioed the airport that he was going to fly above the airport to use up fuel to lighten the aircraft for a gear up landing,” wrote Dueker.
When he learned of the pilot’s plans, Dueker shut down the airport and immediately called the Payson Fire Department to prepare for an emergency landing.
Stan Garner, who was dining at the restaurant just south of the runway, watched as the plane circled and Engines 111 and 112 from PFD staged on the field.
“Fire staged for a disabled plane, circulating to burn off fuel,” he said.
The pilot landed the plane without incident and two people exited unharmed, wrote Dueker.
“Looked like a powered glider,” said Garner.
To remove the plane from the runway, staff used a backhoe from the street department.
“Thanks to the skill of the pilot and the response from Town of Payson departments, the airport was closed less than an hour,” wrote Dueker.
Garner had different thoughts about it all.
“That’s enough excitement for one day, thank you very much,” he said.