The woman rammed the airport gate around 10 p.m. Thursday and started crossing the runway, police spokesman Sgt. Trent Crump said. Officers forced the car to stop after a few minutes and detained the driver.
The incident was the latest involving vehicles crashing through the airport’s gates or fences and getting onto its runways. Sky Harbor spent $10 million to upgrade its perimeter security and access gates after a man being chased by police in 2005 crashed a stolen pickup through a gate and drove onto the runways, passing several jets on a taxiway. In 2003, two teens in a stolen car crashed through a perimeter fence and drove onto the airfield. Both incidents caused brief closure of aircraft operations.
The driver and the child in Thursday’s mishap were not injured, Crump said. The woman may have been impaired, but he did not elaborate.
Sky Harbor spokeswoman Deborah Ostreicher said an airport operations worker was testing the gate and at it was closing the small sedan crashed through. The worker "instantly" notified police and the control tower, which ordered a halt to air traffic operations.
As the car made it onto a runway Phoenix police officers used their vehicles to spin the car around and stop it.
Ostreicher said no aircraft were nearby at the time and no passengers were in immediate danger. Airport operations were stopped for about 15 minutes.
Similar examples have occurred at airports around the country.
A man crashed his SUV through a locked gate at Philadelphia International Airport on March 1 and drove down a runway at speeds of more than 100 mph as a plane was fast approaching him from behind. The incident caused a major disruption, forcing air traffic controllers to put dozens of flights into holding patterns and delaying the departures of dozens more. He was sentenced to 16 months in prison.
In Grand Junction, Colo., a driver smashed through a fence while under the influence of alcohol in 2008 before getting stuck atop electrical equipment.
Earlier this year, a man swam ashore at New York’s JFK Airport after his personal watercraft ran out of gas and climbed a security fence, making his way onto the airport. Officials immediately beefed up security after the Aug. 13 incident.