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Texas Firefighter Describes Cessna 172 Landing

Aired August 27, 2001 - 14:11   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: In the last hour here of CNN, we watched a small plane land without any landing gear. It was a single- engine Cessna 172. It was landing at Meacham Field in Fort Worth, Texas.

And, as we heard from an expert who had joined us, it was a textbook landing, and the two people inside were just fine.

Joining us now to talk about it is Captain David Coble with the Fort Worth Fire Department.

And, Captain, we're told that you were there at the ready for this?

CAPT. DAVID COBLE, FORTH WORTH FIRE DEPARTMENT: That is correct. I did see the plane land.

ALLEN: What were you prepared to do? How was this plane surrounded by emergency personnel as it came down?

And we're watching it set down right now.

COBLE: Yes. The whole time the plane alerted the airport -- when they alerted the airport that they had some type of mechanical trouble, the Fort Worth Fire Department put in what is called an Alert 2. That is a known mechanical problem with the plane. So we responded vehicles to the end of the runway so that they would be there to respond in case anything happened. So they were just there on standby the whole time the Cessna was flying around.

ALLEN: So as the plane comes in and crosses over those emergency vehicles, do the fire trucks try to roll, to get up close to it or stay back until everything is OK?

COBLE: Normally, they wait until the plane comes to rest and then they immediately respond out at that point. There's no reason because you're not sure -- it's just like foaming the runway. We don't foam the runway because we're not sure where that pilot is going to actually end up landing.

You could foam a portion and not even land there. So they just wait until the plane comes to a stop then they respond out there.

ALLEN: Now, we had an expert tell us that this pilot should be able to carry out this landing just fine, that there's a manual for this and there shouldn't be any problems. He didn't expect anyone to get hurt.

But you have to, of course, work on the worst assumption. You are thinking: What could be the worst?

And what would you have done, say, if this plane flipped over?

COBLE: Right.

Well, we had crash rescue vehicles that we have at the airport all the time that prepare to foam. And, also, every Fort Worth firefighter is an emergency medical technician. And we quite a few that are paramedics. And so we had crews on scene for the worst-case scenario in that incident.

But that is not necessarily routine, but there's a lot of planes that come down at that airport and many others with landing-gear problems.

ALLEN: Well, the good news is that you were there to help, but didn't have to today. So that's good -- as you see the pilot and student emerged without a scratch.

COBLE: It turned out great.

ALLEN: Captain Coble, thank you so much for talking with us.

COBLE: You're welcome.

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