Author Topic: Brace brace brace Plane makes emergency landing on narrow gravel road  (Read 532 times)

Offline KB4TEZ

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1474

(only have the tower audio, the relief in his voice when they landed, ATC did a great job directing other planes as the search was going on.)

Bryon Cassie was on a charter flight Thursday evening as the sun was settling low over snowy fields north of Winnipeg, when everything fell quiet — and not in a good way.

First, the left engine cut out.

"I've never been on a plane where that happens, but I know they can fly with only one. So everybody kind of took pictures and was joking about it," said Cassie, who was aboard the small Piper Navajo with six others, including the pilot.

They were flying back from the remote community of Sachigo Lake First Nation in northwestern Ontario. Cassie was returning from a work-related day trip for operator training at the water treatment plant.

The jokes ceased about 10 minutes later, when the second engine quit.

"The pilot turned around and said, 'Make sure your seatbelts are fastened and brace, brace, brace,'" Cassie said.
As the plane drifted, the pilot guided it under some power lines and onto Pigeon Bluff Road, a narrow gravel strip girded by snowy fields about 20 kilometres north of Winnipeg.

"It was actually very smooth — as smooth a landing as at the airport," Cassie said.

No one was injured and the plane was undamaged.

"As far as I understand it, we ran out of fuel. I don't know why, either a miscalculation or heavier winds than anticipated or something like that, but in a bad situation … he did an excellent job. He was very calm."

The pilot only had two options for his makeshift runway — the road or the adjacent field, Cassie said.
"He had to make the decisions very quickly. The field looked very bumpy, so I think there would have been a lot more damage and it would have been a lot harder to get the plane out," Cassie said.

With time to digest things and be flooded by gratitude, the jokes among the passengers started up again.  "We stopped in front of a house and a little kid came out and started taking pictures, so it was kind of funny that way. We were joking, 'Hey, your bus is here,' and that kind of stuff," Cassie said.

"We were all relieved and quite happy and in very good spirits. A plane going down without power on a road in a rural area, coming back from a remote northern location, having just flown over a lake — this was a very good outcome to what could have been a really bad situation."

Steve Allard was also on the plane, and said things could've been a lot worse. He credited the pilot for his decision-making.

"We descended quite rapidly after the second engine went out," he said. "He made a plan and stuck to it, and that's the only reason that we all made it to the ground, because if he had changed his mind at any point, we would have been in a lot of trouble."

Before long, emergency lights flashed in the distance as RCMP, fire and ambulance crews arrived.

"There was a helicopter circling overhead for a little while, too, I guess just making sure everybody was OK, and when they found out there was nothing really that required their attention, they just left," Cassie said.

RCMP Sgt. Paul Manaigre, in an email to CBC News, said a call came in at 4:55 p.m. of a possible plane crash after the aircraft lost contact with St. Andrews airport.Officers kept the road blocked off until the plane could be moved. It was towed to nearby Highway 67, where it was refuelled and took off again around 7:30 p.m.

Only the pilot was aboard that time. A couple of trucks had been sent out by the charter company to drive Cassie and the others, from other companies, back to Winnipeg.

"When we left, they were just getting ready to hook up a truck to the front of the plane to tow it," he said.

Cassie's work has taken him many places on many planes over the past 15 years. He's been as far north as Resolute Bay in Nunavut and delays once get him stuck in Rankin Inlet for four days.

But Thursday evening's experience was a first.

"But honestly, it was kind of pretty cool," Cassie said. "You always think, in the back of your mind, I wonder what would happen if this happened or if that happened. And in this case, I got to live out one of these experiences with no repercussions.  "[It] was sort of like a bucket list thing for me."

Cassie said he loves amusement rides and even jumped off the 350-metre tower at the Strat Hotel in Las Vegas.

"I don't usually get too nervous or anxious around things like that," he said.

He was ready to get back onto that Piper Navajo and take off from Highway 67, if given the chance.

"If they had fuelled up and were willing to take us back to Winnipeg, I would've. I love flying," he said.

"I ride motorcycles and honestly, it's a lot more nerve-wracking riding in traffic on a bike than this was."

A spokesperson with the Transportation Safety Board of Canada told CBC News in an email the agency is still gathering information and assessing the incident to determine whether a full investigation will be launched.

CBC News has also reached out to Eagle Air Enterprises, the owner of the charter company, but has not yet received a response.