A Sunwing airline flight from Santa Clara, Cuba, to Montreal had to make an emergency landing last Wednesday after a tire burst during takeoff.

The plane landed safely at Varadero airport, also in Cuba, and all 190 passengers and crew members escaped without a scratch, after the intervention of emergency ground teams.

The story received little publicity in Canada, but the pilot of the plane, Vicky Earks, received a hero's welcome in Cuba, where the local media reported the story extensively.

Earks was photographed in some Cuban media outlets with a canvas given to her in recognition of her composure.


The cause of the tire blowout on takeoff is not known. Cuban television images show that the outer tire of the left landing gear is shredded, but no apparent damage is visible.

According to the Aviation Safety Network, the aircraft, a Boeing 737-800, had previously experienced a window cracking problem in September 2022 and an autopilot problem in November 2019, but both problems had been resolved.

Sunwing had not returned a call or email from The Canadian Press at the time of publication.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published in French on May 1, 2023.