Sparks fly from plane after landing gear trouble at John Wayne Airport as Hilary slammed SoCal

SANTA ANA, Calif. (KABC) — A plane that landed in Santa Ana Sunday night right as Tropical Storm Hilary was passing through left passengers shaken up after their flight had a rough landing.

According to Alaska Airlines, Flight 1288 from Seattle experienced an issue soon after landing at the John Wayne Airport around 11:15 p.m.

“The aircraft was unable to taxi to the gate due to an issue with its landing gear,” read a statement issued by the airline company.

The plane’s left-side landing gear collapsed during a hard landing. Video shot by a passenger in the plane shows sparks fly as the 737’s left-side engine hit the runway.

“I was panicking. When I first saw the sparks I thought the plane was going to catch on fire,” said Abhinav Amineni, a passenger who shot the video.

Amineni said it wasn’t until the plane completely stopped that he could breathe a sigh of relief. He added that everyone was screaming when the plane hit the ground.

He was flying with his friend Akhilesh Arunkumer. Both are high school students in Orange County who play cricket for the SCYC Cricket Academy. They were returning home from a cricket match in Seattle when the sparks flew.

“Honestly, I was sort of expecting something could go off before we even landed,” Arunkumer said.

Donna Delfin of Long Beach, who was one of the 106 passengers onboard, told Eyewitness News she saw white sparks as the plane was “screeching to a halt.”

“I stood up and saw that my left side of the plane was tilted up and the right side plane was tilted down,” she said. “So I was like, “Oh my God. What had happened?”

Alaska Airlines said the aircraft was left parked on a taxiway, where it remains. The passengers and staff were then taken by bus to the terminal. Delfin said the passengers were patient as they waited their turn to get off the plane.

“The scene outside, it was a lot of fire trucks on the ground, a lot of lights, it was raining, putting all my backpacks down to my family and see the firemen helping us get down the stairs because it was slippery,” she said.

Delfin said you could see the engine resting on the tarmac when they got off.

Still, even in the middle of a historic storm, the Orange County Fire Authority said everyone got off the plane safely and no one was injured.

“We plan for every kind of emergency, so for some rain and wind thrown into the mix, we can handle it,” said OCFA Capt. Greg Barta.

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