GANDER, NL – 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.
“The aircraft took about 15-20 minutes to burn off fuel. Where the nose gear was stuck the pilot attempted a touch-and-go landing (landing on a runway and taking off again without coming to a full stop), with hopes the jolt would loosen the nose gear and it would retract,” said Reg Wright, airport president and CEO.
The maneuver didn’t work, and the pilot made his final approach on Runway 13 around 1:30 p.m.
“I was in the emergency coordination centre, and didn’t see the full landing, but he brought the aircraft down on two wheels, feathered the propellers and cut the engine as it landed,” said Wright.
“It was a pretty remarkable piece of flying on behalf of the pilot. The aircraft had very minor damage, and he walked away under his own power.”
Wright said the pilot was brought to hospital for a precautionary assessment, but certainly seemed in good shape.
The Transportation Safety Board has been contacted and the recovery team planned to move the aircraft within a couple of hours of the landing.
Because the airport has two runways, Wright said arrivals and departures are proceeding as usual.