The remarkable flying skills of a RCMP Pilatus PC-12 pilot averted tragedy at the Gander International Airport on Wednesday afternoon. The lone occupant was on his way from Moncton to St. John’s, however, the aircraft was diverted to Gander because of unfavorable weather conditions.
At approximately 12:30 p.m., the airport received word the aircraft was experiencing nose gear issues. The airport immediately set about preparing for the landing and emergency responders from the airport and the Town of Gander were put into position.
An emergency landing in Gander could have gone much worse if not for the pilot's skill, says the airport authority's CEO. "He walked away from the aircraft, apparently without injury, and really accomplished an astonishing feat today in what he did," said Reg Wright.
"The way he feathered the aircraft back and cut the engine, it was a pretty remarkable landing, right in the middle of the centre line, so certainly kudos to him and his expertise. He avoided something that may have been worse." Feathering is a technique used to reduce drag and increase gliding distance.
The small RCMP Pilatus PC-12 plane, en route from Moncton to St. John's, landed in Gander around 12:30 p.m., after being diverted because of poor weather. With the nose gear malfunctioning, the pilot — who was the only one on board — first briefly touched down in the hope the bump would jar the nose gear loose. "That didn't happen, so he did a second and final approach on Runway 13," said Wright. "He landed with minimal damage to the aircraft and no damage to himself, which is quite a good thing."
People at the airport gathered around to watch the landing and, according to witnesses, clapped and whistled when the pilot finished his gentle landing.