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“We’re stranded!” lamented my son, Austin. He was flying his wife Desi and family from southern New Mexico to Flagstaff to join us for Thanksgiving.
Their aero club Diamond DA-40 carried adequate fuel for what’s normally a three-hour flight, but to allow for headwinds and antsy little kids Austin had planned a pitstop at St. Johns, Arizona. Two days before, he’d phoned St. Johns Industrial Airpark (KSJN) regarding fuel availability.
“We’re closed Thanksgiving Day,” explained airport manager Gary Liston, so Austin rescheduled to travel the day before when the airport would be attended and fuel available. A career jet pilot, Austin had only recently returned to light-plane travel. On two previous journeys the family had battled headwinds, turbulence, and been stranded overnight.
Wednesday, however, dawned calm and clear—finally after those rough rides, Austin had perfect weather “to show Desi how enjoyable and efficient flying can be.” They launched after lunch, and midafternoon we received the expected call from St. Johns.
“The flight was fine,” reported Austin, “but after a perfect landing the airplane pulled progressively harder to the right as we slowed until even full left rudder and brake wouldn’t straighten it. It turns out we have a flat tire and there’s no mechanic here nor any way to pull the airplane off the runway…
**Read Greg’s entire column, “STRANDED!” **
Photos: Diamond DA-40 disabled on Thanksgiving Eve at St. Johns, Arizona. (Austin’s photos)
(This column first appeared in AOPA Flight Training magazine.)
©2019 Gregory N. Brown
If you enjoyed this story, you’ll love Greg’s book, Flying Carpet: The Soul of an Airplane. Autographed copies available!