BILLINGS — If you’re flying out of Billings Logan International Airport this holiday season, it might take a little longer than usual.
The cold temps and frigid windchill are causing delays across the nation, and Billings Logan is no exception.
“The wind blowing causes us to have to be out there to make sure the runways clear. Coldness causes mechanical things to kind of fall apart,” said Kevin Ploehn, the city of Billings’ director of aviation, on Thursday.
That was the case on Wednesday night at the airport, when a Life Flight had trouble with its landing gear.
“When it came down, pretty much the wheels were frozen and so it blew a tire, so we had to close the runway down for about an hour while we tried to get it off 'cuz the equipment we used to get it off broke 'cuz it was cold,” Ploehn said.
Thankfully no one was hurt, but the cold has been merciless.
“I stepped outside and the first breath felt like little needles going into my lungs,” said California native George Morris.
Morris and Sally Stapler got a rude welcome to Montana when they arrived from the West Coast on Thursday.
“We did have to deice when coming in from Salt Lake City, which was fun for our two-year-old grandson. He loved that,” Stapler said.
They’re just thankful that they made it, as more than 2,000 flights were canceled nationwide this Thursday, and more than 6,500 flights were delayed.
Chicago and Denver are two cities currently housing thousands of stranded passengers.
“If you’re going east, you’re going to have to have a lot of patience ‘cuz it might take you a minute to get there,” said Ploehn.
Billings Logan has been seeing between 1,500 and 1,600 travelers a day this week and fortunately, the weather is expected to improve by Christmas Eve.
Despite the bumpy ride, Montana native Sierra Peterson is just happy to be home.
“With the cold, the deicing process, landing was a little fun, we had a nice little slide into the airport,” said Peterson.