Smoky, but safe landing in Aspen |

Smoky, but safe landing in Aspen

Daily Staff Report
Vail, CO Colorado
Paul Conrad/The Aspen TimesAspen firefighters prepare to enter a United jet after it landed Tuesday afternoon at the Aspen/Pitkin County airport.

ASPEN ” A United Airlines jet filled with smoke before landing in Aspen at 3:43 p.m. Tuesday.

The Aspen Volunteer Fire Department responded to the incident on the tarmac, but the flight crew waved off firefighters, and the 30 passengers exited the plane without incident, said Jim Elwood, director of aviation at the Aspen/Pitkin County Airport.

“It just smelled kind of bad,” said Jolene Harlan, who flew to Aspen from Orange County, Calif., with her husband, Travis, for a few days of vacation.

“It wasn’t that bad,” Travis Harlan said. “They notified us there would be an emergency vehicle on the tarmac.”

But other passengers said the smoky landing was the last straw.

First, Flight 6579 sat on the tarmac in Denver for more than an hour waiting for crews to check a problem. United transferred passengers to a second plane when maintenance crews could not fix the problem, and it was that second craft that had problems landing in Aspen.

The cockpit just smelled “like a vacuum cleaner just before it blows,” said Tom Mayo of Hawaii.

Maintenance crews reported an electrical smell and would follow the source, he said ” likely just a shorted wire.

“The airplane landed safely,” Elwood said. “It all ended well.”

Airport officials will report the incident to the Federal Aviation Administration, and the plane will likely be back in service in short order, Elwood said.

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