Gov. Susana Martinez knew something was wrong as the airplane
landed. First, there was the sound of rending metal. Next came the
flying sparks and the burning smell wafting up from the asphalt.
On Thursday morning, New Mexico's first-term Republican governor
recounted for a gaggle of reporters the bumpy landing she and other
passengers endured late Wednesday night when the single-engine plane
touched down at Santa Fe Municipal Airport without the landing gear
"Truly what gave us the hint that something went wrong was the sound
of metal on the asphalt and the sparks along the side on the outside of
the plane," Martinez said.
Appearing nonplused by the previous night's drama, Martinez laughed
at the memory of how she disembarked from the aircraft after the plane
was safely on the ground.
"We didn't have to take several steps down. We just sort of hopped
over the door," she recalled following an event in which she read to
children at the Española library.
"Once we walked away and looked at it, you went, 'Wow. That just
happened to us.' ... So I put on my flip-flops and we trekked along the
desert because we landed on a landing strip away from the airport."
A spokesman for the Governor's Office said Martinez and all
passengers, including Martinez's husband, Chuck Franco, and Clovis-based
Ninth Judicial District Attorney Matt Chandler, were unharmed in
Wednesday night's troubled landing.
Martinez said the group in the private aircraft was flying back to
Santa Fe from Clayton, where they attended a "meet-and-greet campaign
event" for New Mexico Senate candidate Angie Spears, whose campaign paid
for the flight, according to Martinez spokesman Scott Darnell.
Darnell told The New Mexican
in an email that the incident
happened around 10 p.m. Wednesday. Santa Fe police Lt. David Holliday
said officers received word of the troubled landing from emergency
dispatchers shortly after 11 p.m.
"When we arrived, the governor and her party were already in the
terminal and doing fine," Holliday said. "But the plane was still stuck
out on the runway."
The Piper Malibu propeller-driven plane was piloted by Clovis
businessman Sid Strebeck, who has approximately 3,000 flight hours,
Darnell said in the email.
According to Martinez, Strebeck didn't land as the plane initially
approached the airport because of high crosswinds. He circled around the
landing strip and, as he did, he lifted the landing gear to "not slow
the plane down," the governor said.
"When he came back around, he was concentrating so hard on balancing
the plane that, with those crosswinds he did not drop the landing gear,
and so we landed on the belly of the plane," Martinez said. "It was
really not as eventful as one would think."
"We knew we were going around," Martinez said, continuing to tell
the story. "I actually had stopped reading some material I had ... I'm
used to having bumpy [plane] rides, so when it landed, I thought we'd
had a blow out and that we were on metal because you could see sparks
flying on the side, just like when you have a blowout on a vehicle and
you end up with no tire and just the rim."
After the landing, "the pilot immediately notified the authorities,
who arrived at the scene, and the appropriate incident reports are being
filed," Darnell wrote in the email. "The Governor and First Gentleman
left the airport for their residence at approximately 11:30 p.m., after
authorities arrived and received information from all involved."
The governor resumed regular duties Thursday morning, including a
9:30 a.m. event at the Española Public Library that kicked off a
statewide summer reading program.
Digital News Editor Geoff Grammer can be reached at email@example.com or followed on Twitter @GeoffGrammer. Read his crime blog at SantaFeCrime.com.
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