ST. LOUIS - A Learjet with landing gear problems circled an airport outside St. Louis for about an hour and a half Monday before it was diverted to St. Louis-Lambert International Airport, where it safely made an emergency landing.
Eight passengers and pilot walked off the small aircraft and were shuttled away soon after. No injuries were reported, officials said.
The business-class Learjet 45 was headed from Wooster, Ohio, to St. Louis Downtown Airport in Cahokia, Ill., when it reported trouble with its landing gear just before noon CST, airport officials said. Emergency crews with fire trucks and ambulances gathered at the Cahokia airport as the plane circled overhead to burn off fuel before attempting a landing.
Then the plane was sent to the St. Louis airport, which is better prepared for an emergency landing, said Rhonda Hamm-Niebruegge, director of the St. Louis airport. Cahokia is 5 miles south of St. Louis.
Emergency crews awaited the plane there as well, and it landed "without incident" on the airport's longest runway at 1:32 p.m., Federal Aviation Administration and airport officials said.
The aircraft's front landing gear was bent when it touched down, but FAA spokeswoman Elizabeth Cory said it did not collapse. The pilot gently steered the plane off the runway under its own power a short time after the landing.
"Everybody was happy to see the bus and to get off the plane," Hamm-Niebruegge said.
FAA officials were headed to the St. Louis airport to investigate the incident, Cory said.
Flight data posted online said the plane was headed toward Fort Worth, Texas. It took off from Wooster at 10:59 a.m. Monday.
Doug Deeken, the president of the airport board in Wooster, said the plane stopped for fuel at about 10 a.m. Monday and then took off. He said the airport did not service the jet in any other way.
The plane is registered to Aerometro LLC of Houston, Texas.
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