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Small Plane Emergency Lands in Opa-Locka

Aired April 25, 2001 - 11:00   ET


KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: Live to the skies. We want to show you these pictures that are taking -- this is taking place right now courtesy of WFOR.

This is Opa-Locka airport, which is just outside of Miami, Florida. A small plane is having landing-gear problems. It's sort of doing touch and go. It was coming into the airport. Now it's back up in the air.

As you can see, it only has the right wheel down, still not able to get the rest of the landing gear down. We are following this. And we'll let you know what happens to this aircraft.

LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: Yeah. This is a pretty scary shot. We saw moments ago where it actually came down and got to about -- maybe about -- I don't know -- maybe 15, 20 feet in the air over the runway, and it was starting to come down, and that's the first time we noticed that it was only one wheel that was hanging down from the bottom of the line.

I believe, on this particular plane, there are three. There's two -- one on either side on each wing and one on the nose that are supposed to come down. But we have not seen either of the other two. As you can see -- now we can barely see the one that is on the right side of the plane that's down.

PHILLIPS: Opa-Locka airport. I'm getting the pronunciation down right now. And this is near Miami. Once again, this small plane having trouble getting the landing gear down, and this is a scary situation. I don't know about you, but I have been...

HARRIS: Well...

PHILLIPS: I've been flying when this has happened before, and it's -- it's a little scary.

HARRIS: Well, I've seen this before, and usually, I mean, you'll see something like the runway being foamed down, and you'll see lots of emergency equipment. But when this plane took its first pass over the runway, we did not see any of this.

We don't know exactly what is happening on the ground, and we're getting the pictures in from our affiliate WFOR there. So we can't really -- we're not in control of the shot. Now there's a great shot there to show you exactly what the problem is with this plane. As you can see, there is only one wheel underneath this twin-engine plane, and it is only on the right wing, and with this kind of a situation, I don't believe that they -- they'll be able to land this plane very neatly. This may get kind of messy.

Now I believe it looks -- it looks as though it's coming back down again. There you go.

PHILLIPS: To make another attempt.

HARRIS: You see it with the Miami skyline in the background. This plane is now coming in on Opa-Locka airport, and we'll have to sit here and watch and see if it does make it all the way down to the ground. It's impossible for us to get another shot here. We only have the one camera working, but it is coming down. It is getting closer.

PHILLIPS: Extremely steady.

HARRIS: Still has quite a bit of speed. This is -- this is going to be kind of rough. And it looks as though one of the engines has been shut off.

PHILLIPS: The propellers.

HARRIS: You see we have lost the engine on the right side that -- the one engine that is over the one wheel that's down has shut down.

PHILLIPS: He's trying to balance it out. See how he's trying to balance it out. He's got the left propeller.

HARRIS: This is -- this is incredible. This is a controlled descent on to one wheel. The plane is touching. It is now touching down. It is down, and it looks as though it is going to stay down. The nose is now scraping on the ground.

PHILLIPS: That is keeping the nose -- that pilot...

HARRIS: This is an incredible emergency landing.


HARRIS: This is incredible. I mean, we -- there's clapping in our newsroom, but I'll bet you there's more clapping going on inside this guy's heart right now.

PHILLIPS: Look at. Look at. He's coming out. The pilot's coming out and checking his...

HARRIS: He's getting out. There are two people...

PHILLIPS: ... passengers. They're coming right...

HARRIS: ... inside the plane.

PHILLIPS: ... out of the -- two people inside of the plane.

HARRIS: Incredible. Incredible...

PHILLIPS: Oh, yeah.

HARRIS: ... shot here. Absolutely...

PHILLIPS: Shaking hands and hugging.

HARRIS: ... incredible. Yeah. Yeah, that's -- hugs all the way around for this...

PHILLIPS: No doubt they're breaking a sweat here. Very happy.

HARRIS: There you see -- there you go. The man on the left in the white shirt is the pilot from this plane, and he just pulled off an incredible, incredible landing.

PHILLIPS: Leon, I have never seen anything like that happen live. Have you ever seen...

HARRIS: Never seen it live.

PHILLIPS: ... pictures like this?

HARRIS: And, again, we are not -- see, there's no foaming of this runway.

PHILLIPS: OK. Here comes the truck.

HARRIS: You can see just now the emergency equipment.

PHILLIPS: The trucks are coming in.

HARRIS: It's just now coming here.

PHILLIPS: They beat the emergency trucks.

HARRIS: It's a good thing this plane did come down without any damage or any fire or anything because it sure did take a while for the emergency crews to get up there. But these two men are walking away from, folks, what could have been a very, very ugly scene. This plane, we just saw moments ago, landing...

PHILLIPS: Look at this. Emergency -- emergency guys are shaking their hands.

HARRIS: Only one wheel. That is absolutely incredible.

PHILLIPS: Quite a balancing act.

HARRIS: All right. We're -- we're going to try re-roll that tape so you can see what it looked like, folks, but this has been an absolutely remarkable -- and we -- we weren't planning on this. That's for sure. It just kind of popped up.

But, as you can see, there is the plane. It is laying down, leaning on its left-hand side. That wheel you see there under the right wing is the only wheel that is down on this plane. It's the only wheel on the landing gear, and I believe this one has at least three wheels underneath it, one under the nose and two under the wings.

The other two did not ever come down. This pilot managed to shut the one engine over the wheel -- shut that one off and glide this plane down to a landing where the left side didn't scrape until this plane was nearly at a stop or at a very sustainable speed.

PHILLIPS: I'm even checking the wires, Leon, to see if I can get any more information. I don't even see anything coming across the wires. This probably all happened so fast, even beating the emergency crews, and if you notice how the pilot was trying to balance out the plane, I...


PHILLIPS: I'm wondering if that is the procedure, that you shut off one of the engines to balance it out with the loss of the wheels.

HARRIS: We'll have to ask one of our pilot friends if that's a standard -- if that's a standard technique that they learn.

PHILLIPS: We need our aviation expert.

HARRIS: Yeah, this is amazing. And, again, the HASMET people are walking around this plane, and, as you can see, this plane scraped at least a good -- I don't know -- maybe 400, 500 feet down the runway, and there -- there's no fuel spill there. You see.

PHILLIPS: No smoke.

HARRIS: No smoke. No flames. That is incredible. The pilot you see there in the white shirt there. That is -- in the blue shirt is perhaps a crewman or a passenger.

PHILLIPS: Passenger.

HARRIS: Perhaps even the person who rented the plane. We don't know. He's on the phone talking to somebody.

PHILLIPS: He's calling the family saying, "I promise. I'm OK."

HARRIS: He's telling the story to someone. Yeah, I'm guessing it's -- by the way he's dressed, he not a member of the crew on this plane. He's got to be talking to someone to tell them this story.

But, as you can see there, the HASMET folks at the Metro Dade Fire Rescue people there on the scene on this -- as this plane has come down with absolutely no tragic consequences here, and there is no spill, and there is no fire and pretty much...

PHILLIPS: Do you want to take a look at the landing again? Should we -- should we run it again?

HARRIS: This is...

PHILLIPS: Let's -- let's watch it again. Here it comes. This is -- we were seeing this come down on our affiliate WFOR just outside of Miami here. This twin-engine plane coming in. You see the right engine being shut off. The right tire down.

HARRIS: This is incredible. There you go. You see what touches down first.

PHILLIPS: And look at the balance.

HARRIS: He's balanced it so that the right wheel comes down first, as you see, and he is able to ride this and slow down the plane and now -- only -- now does that left side hit and touch and bounce slightly and then just slides.

PHILLIPS: Both engines off. Then glides.

HARRIS: And that's incredible. It's hard to gauge how far that slide is, but I'm guessing at least a good 500 feet -- 500, 600 feet or so, and watch and see how fast these guys get out of the plane.

PHILLIPS: They are ready to...

HARRIS: There's the pilot.

PHILLIPS: The pilot coming back to check on his passenger.

HARRIS: And there's one other passenger in the back. Forget the luggage.

PHILLIPS: That's right. They're not concerned about that. You know what, Leon? I bet you this videotape will be used to show pilots with regard to proper procedure. What do you think?

HARRIS: Oh, it could be. It could be. It's impossible to tell exactly what went wrong here, but we will continue to follow that story, folks, and maybe get some more information about these two very happy men, and...

PHILLIPS: Hugs of relief.

HARRIS: ... get this information to you. But there we saw something live there, something you may never ever get to see again. Amazing!



4:30pm ET, 4/16

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