GREENVILLE - The Minnesota Vikings Christmas weekend visit to Wisconsin got off to a rocky start Friday night when the team's plane skidded off the taxiway here, leaving players, coaches and staff stranded for more than three hours.
The team was eventually removed from the plane two and three people at a time via equipment from the Fox Crossing and Appleton fire departments. The deplaning began about 8:20 p.m. and was expected to take several hours. As the players and staff members exited the plane, they were escorted to a waiting bus.
"This is very atypical," Abe Weber, director of the Appleton International Airport, said of the airport's inability to quickly get the passengers off the plane. A mobile stairwell to accommodate the team's Airbus A330 was not available, and the plane was stranded some 200 yards away from the terminal.
"We didn't have (mobile) equipment large enough for that plane to deplane passengers," Weber said.
A rear wheel on the plane's landing gear slid off the taxiway amid snowy conditions shortly after 5 p.m., Weber said.
The Vikings flew into Appleton International on their way to the Radisson Paper Valley Hotel in downtown Appleton, where they were staying in advance of Saturday's noon game against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field.
Weber said the Airbus A330 landed safely and was taxiing to the arrival gate around 5:10 p.m. when the incident happened.
"When the aircraft was taxiing in, one of the rear main landing gears left the pavement," Weber said.
No one was injured.
"I do not know what the cause of the aircraft tire leaving the pavement was," Weber said.
The Minnesota Vikings tweeted from their official account around 7:15 p.m. confirming the team was on the plane.
Weber said the plane was carrying about 150 people. He said there was constant communication between the people on the plane and the airport and rescue personnel.
"The safest place for the players was to stay on the airplane," Weber said of the delay in retrieving the needed equipment. "This is a process. Again, it's very atypical."
Vikings officials or players were not immediately available for comment.
The incident comes as the Vikings, in a freefall over the second half of a once-promising season, prepare for an NFC North Division showdown with the surging Packers.
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APPLETON, Wis. (WBAY) – The Appleton International Airport says a Delta flight carrying the Minnesota Vikings slid when a rear wheel left the runway on the way to the arrival gate Friday evening.
The team, in town to play the Green Bay Packers on Saturday, had to wait on the plane for several hours before they could begin the process of disembarking.
Vikings player Chad Greenway Tweeted a video with the caption, “How’s your day going?”
It happened at 5:15 p.m. Snow had been falling throughout the evening.
Airport staff Tweeted that flight #8867 landed safely. No injuries were reported.
Two aerial platform fire trucks were needed to get the 150 passengers off the plane. The Fox Crossing Fire Department and New London Fire Department worked together to deplane the players and staff.
“We didn’t have equipment large enough for that aircraft here, so we had to call a platform truck to deplane the passengers,” said Abe Weber of Appleton International Airport
The team could only disembark in small groups, which made it a lengthy process. The entire team was off the plane by 11:30 p.m.
The Vikings play the Packers Saturday at noon. Away teams stay in Appleton.
UPDATE— The ABC station in Minneapolis is reporting that a plane that slid off the taxiway at the Appleton International Airport tonight was carrying the Minnesota Vikings, ahead of their game against the Green Bay Packers Saturday.
KSTP sports reporter Chris Long says on Twitter the team plane went into the grass, and a tire got stuck, stranding the team on the plane.
APPLETON, Wis. (WBAY) — The Outagamie County Sheriff’s Office confirms to Action 2 News that a plane slid off the taxiway at Appleton International Airport tonight.
The Sheriff’s Office says the plane was going slowly at the time, and no one was injured.
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