12 Mar 2005

Plane carrying US ambassador to Marshalls lands safely without front wheel down

5:49 am on 12 March 2005

A plane carrying the US Ambassador to the Marshall Islands has been forced to make an emergency landing at the US Army's missile test range at Kwajalein Atoll.

The nine passengers and three crew, including Ambassador Greta Morris, landed safely on Thursday night after the pilots had made many failed attempts to shake loose the front wheels of the Dash-8 plane.

The plane, under the command of captain Albon Jelke, the national airline's chief pilot, landed on its back wheels and then slid on its nose for about a hundred metres until coming to a stop.

An Army official described damage to the plane as 'remarkably light', and Air Marshall Islands officials are attempting to assess the level of damage.

The plane is one of only two commuter planes that the airline uses for its domestic service.

The plane was also carrying a senator, two mayors, traditional leaders and others who were returning from a day-long visit to Enewetak Atoll.