2 Nov 2007. SA333 (ZS-SNG), a South African Airways flight from Johannesburg to Cape Town on an Airbus A340-600, left the runway after landing at Cape Town International and ended up with its nose-wheel stuck in soft sand. Whilst nobody was hurt, the front wheel ended up about a metre in the sand with the engines about a foot off the ground (the sand is soft from loads of molehills).
According to one joker the pilot was too busy concentrating on putting her makeup on to see where the plane was going. Another hack had it that the plane slipped on a "Mango peel". Third joke for the day - if ACSA couldn't tow the plane out , the only other option was to get recovery gear from OR Tambo by FLYING it in...
South African Airways say that the plane had landed at 1441, and was taxiing at a very low speed when air traffic controller instucted the pilot to make a sharp turn whilst taxiing at slow speed, causing the front wheel (or nose wheel) to slip off the runway into the sand.
As the plane was blocking both runways at their 01/34 intersection, Cape Town airport had to be shut down for takeoffs and landings for a couple of hours, resulting in knock-on delays at other airports in South Africa (particularly Johannesburg's OR Tambo International Airport). Technicians dug the nose wheel out of the sand and pulled the Airbus out backwards. The plane was eventually cleared off the runway at about 5pm.
"...and then the pilot pulled a handbrake turn".
About 300 passengers were on board the flight, including Springbok rugby player Bobby Skinstad and Pam Golding (of Pam Golding property fame). Being a Friday afternoon, didn't help matters. Jean de Villiers and Schalk Burger (Springbok rugby players), who's flight from Cape Town to Durban was delayed, passed the time restaurant-hopping. Also delayed were 1 380 Irish builders with the Niall Mellon Township Trust who were on flights to Cape Town for a week of house-building blitz in Tafelsig, Mitchells Plain.
Cape Town Airport has a series of taxyway closures which have changed the normal routings. Alpha taxyway, just north of the apron, was closed (by the couldn't-care-less ACSA monopoly), meaning that once Echo taxyway has been missed a 150 degree turn has to be executed to get to the apron. Having closed alpha taxyway, ACSA (Association of Completely Stupid A$%#holes) did not bother to paint guiding lines for this turn.
The plane was moved to SAA's technical hangar for assessment of damage. ACSA wont be launching an investigation into the incident (no surprise there - they couldn't care less).