A United Airlines Boeing 737-900 apparently had to be taken out of service after a strange ramp accident at Lewiston-Nez Perce Airport in Idaho on Friday. The airport doesn’t normally see full-sized airliners and there is speculation that might have something to do with it ending up on its tail with half a college football team still onboard on Friday evening. The 737 took the USC team from Los Angeles to Lewiston for a matchup scheduled with the Washington State Cougars in nearby Pullman, Washington, the following day. As the baggage was unloaded from the front compartment and the team and staff left by the front door, the plane settled back on its tail with the nosewheel about 15 feet above the ramp. Those airplanes need a tail support during offloading to prevent them from tipping backward but the ramp crews at Lewiston normally service smaller regional jets and turboprops and omitted that step.
No one was hurt and the airplane was righted quickly, allowing the remaining team members to deplane. The incident apparently didn’t rattle the California squad. They went on to beat the Cougars 45-14 on Saturday. The airplane may not have fared as well. According to FlightAware, the aircraft was supposed to head back to L.A. that night but the flight was apparently rescheduled for at 8 a.m. Saturday. That flight was also canceled. The airplane stayed in Lewiston until late Sunday when it was flown to Houston, where United has a major maintenance base. It’s not clear how the USC football team got back to Los Angeles.