Alaska Airlines flight makes hard landing during California storms

Alaska Airlines Flight 1288 experienced issues with the aircraft’s landing gear while taxiing to its gate at John Wayne Airport in Orange County, Calif., on Sunday night. (Orange County Fire Authority)

An Alaska Airlines flight made a hard landing amid Tropical Storm Hilary late Sunday, sending sparks flying into the night sky at John Wayne Airport in Southern California.

Flight 1288 was traveling from Seattle to Santa Ana in Orange County, when it appears to have hit the ground, dragging its left wing down the short tarmac, according to a video posted to social media.

Passengers on board can be heard screaming during the minute-long video as the plane makes sharp contact with the ground. Meanwhile, bright white and orange streaks can be seen out of a left-hand passenger window.

“There’s sparks outside! Why are there sparks outside?,” one person can be heard saying.

Alaska Airline officials explained that the plane “experienced an issue soon after landing” in the rain at 11:15 p.m. local time.

“The aircraft was unable to taxi to the gate due to an issue with its landing gear,” officials said in a statement, adding that the Boeing 737 “parked on a taxiway, where it remains.”

The flight was carrying 106 passengers and six crew members, who were safely deplaned and transported by bus to the terminal. No one was injured.

Rain and winds gusty winds were reported at the time

At the time of the landing the weather overhead was overcast and rainy, and the entire region was experiencing its first tropical storm in 84 years. According to the National Weather Service winds were gusting up to 30 mph.

Photographs taken by the Orange County Fire Authority, which responded to the emergency, show the off-kilter plane with the left engine resting on the runway.

Additional photos posted to X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, show some of the damage sustained by the left wing.

The FAA says it is investigating the incident. (Orange County Fire Authority)

Airport design makes for scary landings

John Wayne Airport has an unusually short runway, measuring just 5,700 feet. By comparison, the shortest runway at Los Angeles International Airport is just under 9,000 feet.

The short distance means pilots must take off near full power to get the necessary momentum to get off the ground quickly. Similarly, landings are especially bumpy because pilots have to hit the brakes hard to slow the plane on the short runway.

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