Santa Barbara- S County

Part off of DC-10 air tanker falls off plane while taxiing on Santa Maria runway

SANTA MARIA, Calif. - WATCH KCOY 12: Part off of DC-10 air tanker falls off plane while taxiing on Santa Maria runway

SANTA MARIA, Calif.

These pilots have been called unsung heroes. They've been flying out of the Santa Maria airport since the Sherpa fire - but on Thursday there was a mishap. Air tanker officials confirm a part of the braking system fell off of a DC-10 while it was taxiing in on the runway.

"I'm just glad it didn't land in my front yard or the house," Orcutt resident Kevin Tuftee said.

In the video attached to this story, you can see a photo of part of the reverse thruster that fell off of a DC-10 on Thursday while taxiing on the runway. A representative from The Los Padres National Forest says this part is one of the most stressed parts on these planes and can fall off on landing because of the nature of the flying and the landing.

"Well it's sort of strange what happened but I'd really like to know a little bit more about why it happened," Tuftee said.

Kevin Tuftee has lived next to the Santa Maria Public Airport for 25 years.
He says he's not afraid of a part falling off over his house.

"People around here they sort of like looking up in the sky and seeing these bit planes come around here so it's kind of neat," Tuftee said.

Airport officials stress that this happened while on the ground and that nothing fell from the sky.

"They're one of the safest designs in the world at this time," Santa Maria Airport Board Director David Baskett said.

Santa Maria Airport Board Director David Baskett says this has never happened at this airport and that incidents like this are extremely rare.

"The amount of flights of aircraft of this type in the world is so high relative to the things that occasionally come off, it's happened in Los Angeles a couple of times - it's  like getting hit by a meteor," Baskett said.

Baskett says he wouldn't hesitate to get on one of these planes right now.

"I'd go out there right this minute and climb in the airplane and go on a flight in it," Baskett said.

He says these planes are maintained regularly.

"Ranging from daily or before every flight," Baskett said.

"Things happen sometimes that are out of your control," Tuftee said.

Air tanker officials say these planes are checked out by a ground crew between every trip back and forth from these fires.