American Airlines Jet Makes Final Flight, Meets Challenge Of Landing At Jones Riverside

Friday, April 1st 2011, 8:06 am
By: News On 6

TULSA, Oklahoma -- A retired American Airlines MD-80 passenger jet arrived at the Tulsa Tech campus at Jones Riverside Airport Friday morning.

It was the last flight for an American Airlines MD-80. American retired the jet from passenger service last month and donated it to Tulsa Technology Center.

Last month, the airline transferred ownership of the aircraft during a ceremony at Tulsa Maintenance and Engineering base at Tulsa International Airport.

3/4/2011 Related Story: Tulsa Tech Gets Retired American Airlines MD-80

American Airlines MD80 Lands At Jones Riverside

Friday morning, American Airlines Flight #9634 landed at Jones Riverside at 9:28 a.m.  SkyNews6 was there and captured video [see above].

The challenge part of the gift - was the delivery to Jones Riverside Airport - where the weight of the plane, not the length of the runway was the issue. The pilot stopped in plenty of time - and turned over the plane to a ground crew to move it the rest of the way.

"Extensive engineering, the planning, our fuel load, the pilots, mechanics, just towing the plane around in this tight quarters takes special skills," said Clint Allan, American Airlines MD-80 project manager.

First, an American Airlines "Recovery Crew" moved in to prep the plane for taxiing - removing sand bags used to keep the nose down for the short field landing. The plane was too long to make turns on the taxiways so American laid out plywood to support the wheels during a 22 minute move from the runway to the hangar.

See The MD80 Land In Photo Sequence

"They had a blueprint of the landing, the taxiway and were able to plant the airplane with a computer and turn the corners and determine how many sheets of plywood they needed, they had it all planned out ahead of time, it was perfect," Clint Allan said.

Word of the intentionally unpublicized landing had leaked out and a small crowd watched - and waved. After the arrival - airport authorities checked the runway, but found no signs of damage.

The MD-80 will give Tulsa Tech students experience working on an aircraft they are likely to see after they graduate.

"When they walk out of our hangar, they can be hired by American and walk into their hangar and touch the same airplane," said Frank Dickinson, Tulsa Tech campus director.