A U.S. Airways flight at Reagan National Airport bound for Charleston, S.C. was delayed on Friday after it got stuck in a soft spot on the tarmac, apparently caused by extremely high temperatures, the The Washington Post reports.
According to Michelle Mohr, a U.S. Airways spokesperson, the 50-seat regional jet got stuck when the electric tug cart was unable to push it from the gate because the jet's wheels had sunk into the tarmac.
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In an effort to reduce the weight of the plane and free it, the luggage was unloaded and the 35 passengers and 3 crew members deplaned, Mohr said. But that still didn't work, and it wasn't until crews brought in a cart normally used on a much larger aircraft that the plane was freed and able to get on its way.
The flight was delayed for about three hours.
A photo posted to the social news site Reddit that is purported to show the plane's wheels sunken has been viewed nearly 850,000 times. Mohr confirmed to The Huffington Post that the aircraft's registration number in the picture matches the airline that got stuck on Friday.
Mohr told HuffPost that in her more than six years with U.S. Airways, this is the first time she's heard of something like this happening.
"It was a pretty unusual event," she said, "but we're looking at some pretty unusual temperatures."
Indeed, Bloomberg reports that more than 2,400 high-temperature records were broken in the U.S. over the past 11 days.
The temperature at Reagan National reached a high of 98 on Friday, according to the National Weather Service.
The airport wasn't the only part of the Washington, D.C.-area infrastructure feeling the effects of the heat. A "heat kink" brought on by excessive temperatures is being blamed for the Friday derailment of three Metro cars.
UPDATE: July 8, 2012 at 8:00 p.m. EDT
Phillip Dugaw, the passenger who took the photo and posted it to Reddit, contacted HuffPost on Sunday evening and described his experience aboard the aircraft.
Dugaw said that as the plane was getting ready to leave, "there was a jerking motion going back and forth as if something was stuck and preventing the craft from moving at all," he said, adding that the pilots then attempted to free the airplane by firing the engines.
When that didn't work, Dugaw said they unloaded the plane and he and the other passengers spent about 45 minutes in the heat on the tarmac before a bus arrived that took them back to the terminal.
Even though the flight eventually took off, Dugaw, a 24-year-old consultant who works for IBM, was able to get on another flight to Charleston.
LOOK: U.S. Airways Plane's Wheels Stuck On Tarmac: