Plane's tires blow out, tying up Modesto airport runway

Three flights at Modesto Airport were canceled Wednesday after a commuter plane blew out its tires after landing on the main runway. The plane sat there for hours.

The tires blew out on the SkyWest plane from San Francisco at 10:49 a.m. It had five passengers and three crew members on board. No one was injured.

SkyWest spokeswoman Marissa Snow said the 30-seat commuter plane was off the runway at 6 p.m, and United Express said operations had resumed. SkyWest Airlines operates the United Express flights between Modesto and San Francisco.

Snow said three flights were canceled Wednesday, one from San Francisco to Modesto and two from Modesto to San Francisco.

Oakdale resident Randy King said he and about two dozen other passengers were going through security for the 11:17 a.m. flight to San Francisco when United Express representatives told them the flight had been canceled.

King, 51, was flying to San Francisco and then to Atlanta for business. He said United Express helped travelers make other arrangements and was very helpful. He said he didn't notice any complaints among fellow passengers regarding the delay.

"Not a single person was upset," he said. "These days, it's pretty much standard that one out three or four flights ... you have a problem."

King — who changed his travel plans and was set to fly out of Modesto on Wednesday evening — said he heard that the brakes on the disabled plane locked up after landing, causing the tires to blow. Snow said the accident is being investigated.

"I can't tell you what caused the tires to blow out," she said. "We will be inspecting the aircraft," before it's put back in service.

A maintenance crew from Fresno replaced the tires on the grounded SkyWest plane.

One corporate jet waited out the delay on the 5,911-foot-long main runway, but Airport Manager Jerry Thiele said private aircraft and other corporate aircraft used the 3,450-foot-long general aviation runway during the day.

Bee staff writer Adam Ashton contributed to this report.

Bee staff writer Kevin Valine can be reached at or 578-2316.