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Pilot makes emergency landing in Hagerstown

February 20, 2005|by JULIE E. GREENE

julieg@herald-mail.com

Five people escaped uninjured Saturday after a pilot landed a twin-engine Cessna at Hagerstown Regional Airport with one of the main landing gear up, Airport Fire Chief Phil Ridenour said.

"He did a real good job," Ridenour said of the pilot, whose name he did not have. The plane was owned by a Baltimore man, he said.

The plane was heading from Baltimore to Allentown, Pa., when the pilot realized all of the main landing gear was not down, Ridenour said.

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The pilot chose to divert to Hagerstown because of that airport's wider runway, Ridenour said.

The call came into Washington County Emergency Services at 10:25 a.m. and the landing was reported at 10:50 a.m., shift supervisor Keith Bowen said.

A couple of flybys verified, from people on the ground, that the right main landing gear was not down, Ridenour said.

The pilot decided to try a belly landing, but couldn't get the nose gear and left main landing gear up, Ridenour said.

So the pilot landed the plane on the airport's main runway, keeping the plane upright for a long stretch before the plane tipped onto its right wing and slid down the runway, Ridenour said. The plane remained on the runway.

Fuel is stored in the wings, but the pilot had either run the plane low on fuel or dumped fuel so a fire did not start, Ridenour said.

After the plane came to a stop, firefighters sprayed foam on the plane as a precaution, Ridenour said.

The five adults onboard ran out of the plane as soon as it stopped, he said.

"They were really lucky," Ridenour said.

The main runway, which is 5,400 feet long, was shut down for an hour to 90 minutes so smaller planes used other runways, Ridenour said.

Approximately 40 firefighters and emergency medical service personnel responded to the call, Ridenour said. The firefighters were from the airport, Maugansville, Halfway and Long Meadow fire departments and the ambulances were from Maugansville, Community Rescue Service, Halfway and Williamsport.

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