Yeager Airport credits first responders for quick response in emergency landing

Local News

CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – Just after 10 p.m. Monday night, a Delta commuter jet carrying 51 passengers and crew landed safely after it first reported trouble about just 20 miles from Yeager Airport.

The plane was reporting pressurization issues, and calls were made to the 130th Airlift Wing Fire Department. In a video provided by the airport, crews can be seen ready to take action.

“They did have an issue with an oxygen bottle that had gone up in temperature. They stayed around and waited for it to cool off. And then they deemed that fire-safe and cleared the area. All passengers were able to deplane,” said Russ Kennedy, the Operations Manager at Yeager Airport.

Shift commander at the time of the call and Chief Deputy for the fire department, Jeffery Elswick says they are ready for all situations, but this one came with precious cargo. “It was a little nerve-wracking feeling knowing that we had 52 passengers on board and the potential of what could go wrong,” he said.

Less than a month ago, Yeager Airport and its mutual aid partners held a triennial exercise that prepares them for situations just like this one. “That training gives us the ability not only to work with our mutual aid partners in a sterile situation but it gives us the ability to build the skills we need as far as the airport to react to these situations,” added Kennedy.

The fire department is also giving credit to the leaders on board this plane. “The crew on board did a good job on keeping the passengers calm and talking to them step by step of what was going on from the time the plane landed to the fire trucks coming up and what was going to happen,” said Elswick.

Airport officials stress how important it is to have the fire department on-site 24/7 and their quick responses. “I’m really grateful that we do have our 130th right here at the airport and they are able to respond to situations like that. I mean it’s very important that they are here on-site, and again in that video you see they are right there, on the ground, on the runway waiting for that plane to land so they can step in and do what they need to do,” said Rachel Urbanski, the public affairs specialist for Yeager.

When the oxygen masks were deployed, there was a faint smell of smoke in the cabin. However, everyone did make it out of the plane safely.

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