WILL WEISSERT, Associated Press
NEW YORK (AP) — Republican vice presidential candidate Mike Pence’s campaign plane slid off a runway during a rainstorm at New York’s LaGuardia Airport late Thursday, tearing up concrete before coming to rest on a patch of grass.
When the plane came to a stop, U.S. Secret Service agents rushed from the back of the plane to the front, where Pence was seated, to check on the candidate. He said he was fine, though, and no one had been injured.
“We can see mud on the front windows,” a calm Pence said in the press cabin about a minute after the plane came to rest.
Later, the Indiana governor tweeted: “So thankful everyone on our plane is safe. Grateful for our first responders & the concern & prayers of so many. Back on the trail tomorrow!”
In Geneva, Ohio, GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump told his supporters that Pence had come “pretty close to grave, grave danger.” But, he added: “I just spoke to Mike Pence and he’s fine. Everybody’s fine.”
Democrat Hillary Clinton tweeted: “Glad to hear @mike_pence, his staff, Secret Service, and the crew are all safe.”
The plane was coming to New York from Fort Dodge, Iowa, where it had made a hard landing but stayed on the runway earlier Thursday afternoon. After a rally in Fort Dodge, Pence’s flight to New York was delayed because of weather. The Indiana governor spent about 20 minutes tossing a football with his staff, journalists and Secret Service agents near the Iowa runway.
Upon arriving at LaGuardia, after a bumpy approach, the Boeing 737 Eastern Airlines charter landed roughly, making first contact with the runway concrete. The pilot slammed on the brakes and the plane began to slide sideways. When it stopped, passengers could smell burning rubber.
The Federal Aviation Administration said, “A crushable concrete runway safety technology called an Engineered Material Arresting System stopped the plane.” The FAA website says the material is “designed to safely stop airplanes that overshoot runways.”
The 37 passengers, including Pence, and 11 crew members were evacuated through the back of the plane.
In a series of televised interviews on Friday, Pence said he was grateful that the crushable concrete runway worked as designed and for the “quick action” by pilots and first responders.
“Just for a few seconds, you could feel us bouncing off,” he told ABC’s “Good Morning America.” ”And with mud splattered up on the windows, we figured we were off the runway.”
Pence added: “I’m just really grateful, really grateful, for some quick action, not only by the pilots, but also by first responders” who were quickly on the scene.
The Port Authority shut down the runway following the incident, but later reopened it. In a statement, the agency confirmed that the plane had “overshot” the runway and said there were no injuries and no fire.
Port Authority Executive Director Patrick Foye said the National Transportation Safety Board “will take control of the investigation. The aircraft will remain where it is until the NTSB releases it.”
Foye added, “Per the request of the NTSB, we are not going to speculate on the cause of the incident tonight.”
Pence spokesman Marc Lotter said Pence spoke with Trump shortly after the landing. The vice presidential candidate also called into the $1 million fundraiser at Trump Tower that he had been expected to attend, Lotter said. The campaign said it was preparing a new, similar aircraft that would be ready soon.
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