Sparks Light Up California Runway Amid Plane’s Harsh Landing

During Tropical Storm Hilary late on Sunday, an Alaska Airlines flight encountered a challenging landing at John Wayne Airport in Southern California, producing sparks as it made contact with the runway.

Onlookers watched in horror as Flight 1288, traveling from Seattle to Santa Ana in Orange County, made a high-speed landing. A YouTube video showcased the plane’s left wing scraping the tarmac, resulting in sparks flying amid the pouring rain.

In the captured video, a voice is heard questioning, “Why are we descending so quickly?” Another voice commands, “Brace,” hinting that the plane is not decelerating sufficiently. The sound of a significant impact follows, along with audible gasps and shouts from the passengers. One alarmed traveler inquires about the sparks visible outside the aircraft.

Addressing the incident, Alaska Airlines acknowledged that post-landing, there were complications around 11:15 p.m. local time. The statement explained that the Boeing 737 couldn’t be driven to its gate due to issues with the landing gear, so it was stationed on a taxiway.

Thankfully, the 106 passengers and crew of six on Flight 1288 were safely escorted off the plane and taken to the terminal without any reported injuries. Alaska Airlines expressed gratitude for their customers’ understanding and patience, emphasizing, “The safety of our guests and employees remains paramount. Though such incidents are rare, our teams are rigorously trained to manage various challenging situations.”

The Orange County Fire Authority (OCFA) aided the evacuation. OCFA praised the collaborative efforts of the airport staff, stating, “Joint training ensures smooth handling of airport emergencies.”

Tropical Storm Hilary, which had previously hit as a Category 4 hurricane on the Baja California peninsula, brought heavy rain and winds to Southern California and Nevada — a severity not witnessed in 84 years. The storm has reportedly led to at least one fatality in Mexico, and states of emergency were declared in California and Nevada. FEMA has offered both conditions assistance in light of the storm’s impact.