Just after 10 a.m., the pilot, who was traveling from Idaho Falls, Idaho to San Jose's Reid-Hillview Airport, notified the Federal Aviation Administration that he was experiencing mechanical problems with his aircraft, a Piper PA-46 Malibu.
The pilot, who has not been identified, circled the area for nearly 90 minutes to burn fuel in preparation for the emergency landing.
"His aircraft wasn't cooperating, so he did everything he could according to his emergency checklist on-board to ensure the safest landing possible," said SJC spokesperson Rosemary Barnes.
San Jose fire, police, and other mutual aid responders took their places to access the eventual crash scene on Runway 30L. A layer of foam was also added to help soften the belly landing.
"You want to come in almost as slow as you can. A landing is a stall, so you're basically stalling into the ground," said San Jose resident Lon Minier, who heard the call for help on the scanner. "In this situation, what you want is no sparks, no fire."
BACK IN ACTION: Runway 30L has re-opened and our airfield is now back to full operation following the aircraft incident and emergency response earlier today. We expect some delays through the evening as airline operations catch-up. #SJCUpdates pic.twitter.com/SmwmltKUAb— Mineta San Jose International Airport (@FlySJC) February 28, 2020
As the airport operations team closed the airport in anticipation of the landing, onlookers gathered on the west side of the property to see it all unfold.
"It's pretty crazy. You hear about these things, or you see them on TV or on the news, but you never really think you'll witness one yourself," said San Jose resident Marc Thompson.
The plane successfully landed just before noon. The pilot and his three passengers able to walk away from the aircraft without assistance and apparently without any significant injuries.
"I'm sure he got a lot of accolades out there from all the responders on how he handled it and took the time and went through the procedures to ensure the best landing possible," said Barnes.
Both runways at the airport were fully operational by Friday afternoon. Five flights were diverted to Oakland, San Francisco, and Fresno during the temporary closure.