‘The wheels on the airplane go square, square, square.’ Not even Weird Al Yankovic could turn that phrase into an effective parody of the children’s classic ‘The Wheels on the Bus.’ However, that didn’t stop a weird incident in Hong Kong from garnering international attention. The pilots of British Airways flight A338 knew soon after taking off from Hong Kong International Airport that there was a problem with one of the wheels. Making a quick decision, they concluded that continuing their flight to London was the advisable course of action. Throughout the duration of the flight, the wheel notification light remained on, but the pilots were confident that it would be a non-issue. They were both right and wrong.
As the flight approached London’s Heathrow Airport, the pilots decided to err on the side of caution and radioed for emergency crews to be standing by in case the wheel created any problems. Fortunately for the 253 people on board, there was no need for the emergency personnel. However, those same firefighting and medical response crews were on hand when the maintenance staff inspected the malfunctioning wheel. What they saw was a first: a flat tire that was square-shaped.
Flight specialists and aviation enthusiasts from around the globe have weighed in on the bizarre sight. No one has come forward with a claim that they have ever seen anything like it before. With the potential for negative criticism to be directed at its pilots, British Airways has stressed that the A380 aircraft, the kind involved in this incident, is able to land normally, even if there is a problem with one of the craft’s eighteen tires. The leading guess to explain the square-shaped wheel is that it was a slow leak, which did not intensify until the tire was compressed with the rest of the landing gear. In that area, the tire took on the square shape of the compartment. However, that theory fails to explain how the shape survived the impact of landing.