The other day, a Boeing 747 was coming in for a landing at CAK. It was lunchtime, so my co-workers and I were back in the break room of the airport’s ARFF (aircraft rescue and firefighting) station. Out the side window of the building, I saw the 747 on the approach for runway 23. Ten seconds later, we heard a series of loud booms that sounded like those flash-bang fireworks they set off during July 4th. My co-workers and I immediately started running for our two Rosenbauer ARFF trucks even before the control tower set off the aircraft emergency alert.
We got clearance from the control tower to drive down to the 747 via runway 23. The runway was covered with blown tires and rubber fragments. By the time we arrived at the 747, it had cleared the runway and had shut down on the adjacent taxiway. Our ARFF trucks pulled up to the plane in the event that a fire was to break out (luckily, it never did). At this point, we had several aircraft that were either departing or arriving and couldn’t do so since there was debris all over the runway. Our airfield maintenance crew got several of our Sweepster runway brooms out of hibernation (they’re normally used to remove snow from runways and taxiways) and used them to clean up the runway so we could get it back in service ASAP.
All in all, the airport was only closed for about half an hour. Due to the teamwork of the personnel here at CAK, what could’ve turned out to be a big deal was taken care of expeditiously and without incident. There is still no word on what caused the 747 to damage all of its main landing gear tires, but what is most important is that no one got hurt. Like I always say, “just another day at the office.”