The owner of a Falcon 900 probably thought the worst thing that could happen on April 2 was a runway excursion at Aspen Pitkin Airport, but he or she would have been wrong. The bad day got worse when, in an attempt to clear the only runway, the nosegear was torn off the top-of-the-line business jet. Whoever was in charge of the recovery effort brought in a large snowplow to try to tow it out with a line attached to the nosegear. The airplane appears to have been mired in soft ground at the side of Runway 15/33. After a couple of attempts, the nosegear gave and the nose fell to the ground.

The plane was on a flight from Boca Raton and landed at Aspen in the middle of a busy Sunday afternoon. There were no injuries when it left the runway but the resulting closure of the runway affected numerous commercial and private flights with people trying to get home after their weekend mountain getaway. The big 12-seat tri-jet is owned by JDR Management, of Boca Raton.

Russ Niles
Russ Niles is Editor-in-Chief of AVweb. He has been a pilot for 30 years and joined AVweb 22 years ago. He and his wife Marni live in southern British Columbia where they also operate a small winery.


  1. I drove by that airport a few years ago on vacation. You won’t see a 152, 172, or 182. That’s the big boys playground. Bring your jet or go home.

        • LOL. Years ago our corporate flight department hangared our GIV with another company who operated a Falcon 900. The chief pilot of that company remarked to our chief pilot that he would rather have 3 engines(Garrett/Honeywell TFE-731) than 2 engines (GIV – Rolls Royce Tays) when crossing the pond. Our boss replied that he’d rather have 2 men working for him than 3 boys :))

    • My wife and I actually landed there in our 172 while taking a mountain flying course from the Colorado Pilots Association years ago. Quite an experience.

    • Have landed there several time in my 182. Yeah, you get some attitude, but it doesn’t bother me. It’s paid for!

    • Not so. My wife and I stopped there for lunch in our Cessna 182. …. it did look a little lonely though.

  2. Must be a Navy guy driving that tractor, seen lots of F-18 slung off carriers by the nose wheel.

  3. I can’t believe the FAA has no reg in place requiring Patroni to be employed on a 24/7 On Call basis.

  4. Look at the bright side – they could have tried a big Payloader with a large set of forks to lift it out of the muck & mire.

    • A heavy duty dolly under the nose and then straps placed around the mains like should have been done to start with.

  5. Ya just can’t fix stupid. Dumb to try to yank an airplane mired in the muck by the nose gear. At a minimum I’d have tow straps on the main gear too and dig any wheels out of the muck and have some ramps for the wheels to roll up on. Also put that cigar chomping guy in the cockpit with a little judicial thrust from the center engine.

  6. What the heck was the PIC thinking? Towing w/ a NLG is one thing; pulling a stuck jet out of snow or mud with a plow is another. Maybe they just got out and told the ground handlers to, “Go get my jet?

    I hear they used a couple of Harbor Freight car moving dollies. 🙂

  7. Sadly not an uncommon event. Many otherwise repairable aircraft have been destroyed by the “recovery” process.

    If my airplane ends up off the side of the runway, I am going to take a good look at the plan to recover it.

  8. While it may be tempting to use blunt and confrontational language to convey the importance of taking responsibility for one’s actions and avoiding incremental stupidity, it may ultimately be more effective to approach the issue with empathy and understanding. ‘


  9. Ouch… that not be cheap 🙁 Perhaps the parking brake was still set… in any case, involving the stronger mains in the tow would have been wise indeed.