The Oklahoma Highway Patrol says a trooper prevented a stolen utility truck from running into an airliner as the truck drove across Tulsa International Airport Wednesday morning.
That airliner was apparently a United Airlines flight to Denver.
Trooper Dwight Durant said the trooper who was chasing the stolen truck when it crashed through an airport gate saw the truck head toward an airliner preparing to take off. The trooper used what the OHP calls the tactical vehicle intervention maneuver to try to stop the truck, using his car to make the truck stop. The truck didn't stop, but the maneuver prevented the truck from hitting the jet, Durant said.
A spokesperson with the airport said the area is mainly used for repairs, private jets and corporate planes and said it wasn't busy at the time.
She said no airplanes were impacted, however, OHP said they saw a plane on the runway.
According to recordings of ground controllers posted on liveatc.net, the flight that was about to take off was United Airlines Flight 1872 bound for Denver. The ground controller can be heard telling all flights at TIA to stand by because there’s a high-speed pursuit on the airport. He then clears Flight 1872 for takeoff.
This is a partial transcript of controllers speaking to pilots:
Controller 1: “We’ve got a high-speed pursuit going on ON the airport. Somebody’s broken onto the field so I’m taking care of that for a second.”
Controller 2: “Flight 1872, Approach. Good morning, sir. Runway 3-6 Right hold short.”
The controllers spend a few seconds dealing with other traffic.
Controller 2: “United 1872, Runway 3-6 Right, climb to one heading, cleared for takeoff.”
Controllers also asked another flight to circle once in the air before landing as the chase proceeded across airport property.
The runway was closed most of the day while crews repaired the damaged gate and fence, but, they said the area should be back up and running by Thursday.
TIA is required to report incidents like this to the FAA, but they said there most likely will not be an in-depth investigation because the incident wasn't airline related.
OHP made an arrest in the fatal crash Wednesday afternoon. They took 24-year-old Jerry Newman into custody in east Tulsa.
This is the second time in the last three years a vehicle has breached a secure area at the airport.