A Hawker business jet departed the Centennial Airport [KAPA] at 11:03AM local time, carrying a passenger on a flight to Latrobe, PA [KLBE]. Had everything been normal, it would have landed less than three hours later. On this flight, though, a mechanical failure forced the flight to return for a landing.
It was believed that a tire ruptured during the takeoff, and caused damage to the hydraulic system. So, the flight crew got approval from ATC to fly delay patterns with the sole purpose being to burn off all extra fuel prior to a gear-up landing.
In the diagram below (a ‘classic view’ covering northeast Colorado, from Flightaware), the flight takes off to the south at KAPA (bottom left corner area) and eventually lands to the north at [KDEN]. Annotations have been added to help illustrate the route flown; a few locations give geographic reference, and local times (orange) help to show the sequence of loops. Essentially, the flight had taken off to the south and then climbed to 23,000-ft. It had a speed well over 400-knots when it was turned around near Yuma, CO. The flight then proceeded back to Centennial, and set up for a possible landing. Instead of landing, the flight flew southbound over the airport, then turned east and began a series of random loops, probably while a final plan was being worked out. More than an hour later, the flight was routed north, where the flight crew made seven large circuits to the north of Greeley. Then, at approximately 3:00PM, the flight turned inbound for a landing at Denver International Airport.The landing was successful. A foamed Runway 34L received the no-gear aircraft, creating a shower of sparks while the Hawker decelerated. A small fire under the fuselage was quickly extinguished. Here is a video from Denver’s Fox 31: