Last Sunday, Southwest flight 3789 was coming from Denver to St. Louis and was due to arrive at Lambert International Airport at approximately 7 p.m.. The pilot of the plane circled the sky for a while as rain and thunderstorms passed through the area. Visibility was not good. His airplane was burning fuel.
As a preventive measure, the pilot of the Boeign 737 plane, with 137 passengers aboard, at instead of Lambert. All passengers were safe. Some were transported by bus, others were picked up by friends or family.
“Kudos to a Southwest team who made the best of a bad situation. It's why they are the best in the business,” tweeted Virginia McDowell, a passenger in the airplane.
Dave Schubert, assistant director at Spirit of St. Louis, said events like this do not happen often, but when they do, the airport is ready to assist in whatever way possible.
“It’s not out of ordinary, it happens every once in awhile,” Schubert said of the landing. “Anytime a pilot decides he cannot land at Lambert we are ready to help if the pilot chooses to land here, but it is solely up to the pilot’s discretion.”
He said the last time a similar situation occur was during the April of 2011 tornado that hit Lambert.
Schubert said the airport’s policy is to wait for a decision to be made between the pilot and the control tower at Lambert. Although Spirit of St. Louis handles mainly small, private flights, it can accommodate the landing of larger planes, Shubert said.
Spirit of St. Louis is a Part-139 certificated airport, a Federal Aviation Administration requirement to, among other things, allow airplanes such as the Southwest one to land there.
Although it is not an official partnership between the two airports, Spirit of St. Louis serves as the main relief airport for Lambert.
“Very rarely does it happen,” Schubert said. “This is the first time it has happened to me in eight years. I am glad we could assist.”
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