Newark airport reopens after emergency landing

NEWARK, N.J. - Newark Liberty International Airport is fully operational Tuesday morning after a plane was forced to make an emergency landing Monday night.

Port Authority officials said a United Express flight from Atlanta made an emergency landing around 6:20 Monday evening because of a problem with the nose gear.

The pilot of Flight 5124, which had taken off from Atlanta, was left with no choice but to land the plane on its nose after its landing gear got stuck and was unable to deploy, reports CBS Station WCBS.

It was just after 6 p.m. when the pilot noticed a landing gear indicator light was on. The pilot requested a flyby to make sure it was actually stuck, and then made an emergency landing.

The plane skidded to a halt.

Just moments before the pilot told air traffic controllers he had a serious problem: "We're not going to know that it's completely down and locked, so I would like to declare an emergency at this time and request rescue check us out when we get there. Assuming we stop on the runway," he said.

The passengers exited the aircraft by inflatable chutes. There were no reports of injuries among the 71 people aboard, WCBS correspondent Derricke Dennis reported.

Passengers were, though, understandably frightened.

"I thought it was the end, I really did," passenger Steve Parowski told CBS News. "I sent a text to my son just letting him know that I love him and hope everything works out, take care of everything. It's unbelievable. Unbelievable."

Other air travelers had to circle, or otherwise wait and watch on the tarmac.

"It looked in trouble, tilted down close to the ground," Mary Ann Strandell of North Bergen, N.J., told WCBS.

The airport was closed for about an hour after the landing.

Newark firefighters were called to the scene, but found no fire aboard the plane.

Federal aviation officials are investigating the mechanical failure.