PA - Gear glitch lands N.Y. plane at area airport : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

Friday, August 17, 2001

PA - Gear glitch lands N.Y. plane at area airport BY DAVID PENN


Members of the Washington County hazardous materials team, four fire companies and about two dozen sightseers watched in silence Thursday afternoon as a plane with malfunctioning landing gear made an emergency landing at Washington County Airport.

The pilot of the twin-engine Cheyenne 400 called Cheyenne Air Center at the airport about 2 p.m. to request that technicians inspect one of three sets of landing gear on the plane. David Campbell of Little Valley, N.Y., said he was preparing to land in Buffalo, N.Y., when he noticed a light in the cockpit indicating his landing gear was down, but not locked in place.

Campbell, a contract pilot for Ice Cream Aviation in Dunkirk, N.Y., was traveling from Dunkirk to pick up a corporate client headed for Florida.

"I cycled through the gear a few times to make sure it wasn't just a glitch," Campbell said. He flew by the Buffalo airport tower to confirm that the landing gear was down and traveled back to Dunkirk, about a 10-minute flight, for another flyby.

Campbell, who has been flying since 1974, decided to come to Pennsylvania because he knew there were technicians here who could inspect the plane. If he had attempted a landing in New York, he said, the plane would have been transported to a Cheyenne shop anyway.

Campbell made two passes over the runway at Washington County while Cheyenne technicians drove a speeding truck beneath him, examining the gear. Campbell landed the plane with a stiff breeze behind him about 3:10 p.m. The gear held in place.

It was, in fact, a picture-perfect landing.

"It turned out the way we wanted," said Bruce Graham, South Franklin Township fire chief. Graham's engines followed behind the plane as it landed, meeting Campbell as the plane came to a stop. There were no injuries.

Airport manager Ken Krupa said there are one or two emergency landings at the airport each year, not counting smaller, unpublicized incidents.

"We do get guys who call and say they're unsure if their gear is functioning, but they're going to land anyway," Krupa said. "They know their planes well enough to make the call."

Though there are 35,000 take-offs and landings at the airport each year, Krupa said he can't remember there being a serious accident in the 13 years he's worked there.

-- Doris (, August 17, 2001

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