Sunday, July 29, 2012

Storms flip small plane at Raleigh-Durham International Airport (KRDU), Raleigh/Durham, North Carolina

RALEIGH -- Strong winds associated with thunderstorms that swept the Triangle on Saturday night turned over a single-engine Cessna plane parked near the United Parcel Service facility at Raleigh-Durham International Airport, and fuel on board the plane began leaking on Sunday, an airport spokesman said. 

Five to 10 gallons of aviation fuel found its way out of the plane because it was upside down, the spokesman said. That brought airport firefighters and workers to clean up the spill and drain the remaining fuel. Airport officials had contacted the plane’s owner to have the aircraft righted, he said.

The National Weather Service reported that Saturday’s highest sustained wind speed was 39 mph, and gusts up to 66 mph were recorded at RDU.

The storms were accompanied by lightning, though no fires were reported due to that. Storms in recent weeks were blamed for several fires.

Power outages were reported throughout the area as limbs came down on power lines, but crews were able to repair most of them within hours.

At RDU, the wind also picked up two empty freight containers, the cube-like devices that are loaded into UPS planes, and blew them into a fence, knocking part of it down, the RDU spokesman said.

The plane was upended about 8 p.m. The plane was associated with UPS and was approved to be in that area, but it was not immediately clear what the connection was, the spokesman said.

Small planes parked at airport general aviation areas often are tied down to prevent storm damage, but the ramp at the UPS hangar does not have that capability.


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