A TRAINEE pilot narrowly averted disaster after completing a daring emergency landing north of Melbourne today. Drama struck when one of the three wheels on the 21-year-old student pilot's single-engine Piper Warrior fell off soon after take-off at Mangalore Airport, 130km north of Melbourne CBD.
The pilot, flying solo, was forced to circle the airport for five hours to burn off fuel.
The Chinese student with just 120 hours flying experience was talked down by his flight instructor, police and aviation safety authorities.
He was said to be in good spirits and calm while emergency crews talked to him by two-way radio during the ordeal.
The pilot speaks English as a second language and a fellow student and his instructor at times spoke in his native language during the drama to avoid confusion.
Emergency crews knew a crash landing was likely, heightening concerns it could spark a fire at the dry and dusty aerodrome.
Just metres off the runway.
The aircraft, missing its back right-hand wheel, touched down at Mangalore Airport about 1.20pm.
Fire crews foamed the runway, but the Piper veered off to the left soon after touching down.
The plane lurched, then came to a sudden stop, sending up plumes of dust.
The pilot remained in the cockpit as emergency crews poured more foam on the plane to prevent a fire.
Acting Sen-Sgt Clayton Munro told the Herald Sun at the scene: "It was an excellent landing."
The pilot was not hurt but left shaken.
The pilot had noticed the plane was not flying correctly soon after his 9am take-off.
His instructor said to fly near the airport so a visual inspection could be done, when it was noticed the wheel had fallen off.
During the emergency, Mangalore Airport spokesman Joe Gagola told the Herald Sun: "He's in good spirits at the moment. He's as calm as can be expected at the moment and is just circling the airport trying to use up fuel.
"Until he uses up more fuel, nothing can be done ... the school has their chief pilot here, the police have their airwing here. He's got plenty of help."
Mr Gagola said the student was a capable pilot but the landing would he difficult.
"He's not a novice so he has a little bit of experience, but landing on two wheels is not going to be easy," he said.
In: Other News
Tags: Student, Trainee, Pilot, Forced, to, Make, Emergency, Landing, Minus, One, Wheel, mangalore, melbourne, light, aircraft, plane,
Location: Mangalore, Victoria, Australia (load item map)
Marked as: approved, featured
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