TULSA, Okla. (AP) - An American Eagle regional jet carrying U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe and 52 others made an emergency landing Monday after a tire was damaged during take off in Tulsa, authorities said.
None of the 50 passengers and three crew members on board were hurt.
The pilot notified the tower when a right main gear tire separated as the plane took off. The aircraft was then directed to enter a fuel burn-off flight pattern, officials said.
It was declared that the plane, bound for Chicago, was going to make an emergency landing at 12:22 p.m., Tulsa International Airport spokeswoman said Alexis Higgins said. The plane landed safely at 12:27 p.m. and was towed to the terminal where the passengers were able to exit.
Upon landing, the damaged tire shredded rubber along the runway. It took about 30 minutes for workers to clear the remains of the tire off the runway.
Inhofe, a veteran pilot, described the landing as very good.
"They put the trucks out there. I think they are required to do that," he said. "I have had a lot more emergencies in old airplanes myself than that."
In 1999, Inhofe, R-Okla., made an emergency landing in Claremore after his plane lost its propeller. In 2006, an experimental plane Inhofe was flying spun out of control upon landing at Tulsa's Riverside Airport.
Inhofe was headed to Washington where he was scheduled to join an official congrµessional delegation to Africa and the Middle East. The trip, which coincides with the 20th anniversary of World AIDS Day, now will be delayed by one day.
Inhofe said he plans to meet with key African leaders who are on the front lines in fighting HIV/AIDS in their countries. Visits are scheduled in Nigeria, Rwanda, Uganda and Ethiopia, he said.