Dr. David Cooper talks about having to make an emergency landing last week in the Harrisburg area while piloting his private plane.
WILKES-BARRE — Dr. David Cooper said he wasn’t scared at all, even though the plane he was piloting had lost power and he had to make an emergency landing with its landing gear unable to lock last week.
“It was like being up there all alone like (Charles) Lindbergh,” Cooper said Tuesday. “I just had to get it on the ground without bumping into another airplane.”
Cooper made the emergency landing at Harrisburg International Airport in Middletown late Thursday afternoon. He was traveling alone.
Cooper, an orthopedic surgeon who owns The Knee Center on Kidder Street, was on his way to Hershey, where he had scheduled surgeries on Friday — appointments he kept despite the harrowing experience.
For most of the 25-minute flight from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport to Harrisburg, Cooper said it was uneventful. He was at about 8,000 feet and had just received clearance to go to 6,000 feet for his approach into Harrisburg — about 10 minutes away.
“After that, things started to go bad real quickly,” he said.
His single, jet-engine Beech Bonanza — converted from a piston-driven engine — began to oscillate and the electrical system began to shut down. In a matter of minutes, Cooper said, the plane, valued at $750,000 and one of only 40 in the world, was without electrical power.
He said the jet engine never lost power, but he was flying an aircraft with no communication that was undetectable on radar. The airport couldn’t track him and other planes in the air would not know he was there.
Cooper used a hand-held radio to notify the airport he was going to make an emergency landing. He used a hand-held GPS device to help get him to the airport. He also was able to use the towers at Three Mile Island, located adjacent to the airport, to guide him.
Cooper said he was able to keep the plane level as he manually cranked the landing gear down. However, he was unable to know if the gear locked in place. When he hit the runway, the landing gear collapsed because it wasn’t locked.
“I felt the best thing was to get the plane on the ground,” he said. “I had a normal approach and the airport had the fire engines out in case of a problem.”
Cooper said the landing went well, despite being unable to use flaps to slow the plane. He said the plane veered slightly off the runway and sparks caused a small grass fire.
“I came in at a higher speed than normal,” he said. “I was uninjured, but the plane sustained between $100,00 and $200,000 worth of damage.”
Cooper said sheet metal was damaged, but the largest expense will be in tearing down the engine. He said the Federal Aviation Administration will investigate to determine what caused the electrical system to quit.
The 25-year licensed pilot said it will take four months to repair the aircraft at Seamans Airport in Factoryville.
Cooper said he flies all over the U.S. and can’t wait to get back into the air.
“Pilots, like surgeons, solve problems,” he said. “In this case, you accept your fate and make the most of it.”
What will Cooper take away from this experience? He said he was concerned about encountering another aircraft.
“Well, you learn how you react in an emergency,” he said. “It’s interesting; I didn’t panic and I had no fear — just determination. I was confident I was going to get the plane and myself on the ground safely.”
Story, Photo and Comments/Reaction: http://www.timesleader.com
MIDDLETOWN, Pa. (WHTM) -
An emergency landing at Harrisburg International Airport last week was even riskier than first believed.
The pilot, Dr. Dave Cooper, told abc27 News Monday that he landed Thursday night without any power to the plane.
"Well, it all started out with a very uneventful flight. I was looking forward to coming to Harrisburg, flying out of Wilkes-Barre/Scranton," said Cooper, an orthopedic surgeon in Wilkes-Barre.
"Normally, it's about a half an hour flight."
About 10 minutes away from Harrisburg, Cooper said everything went dark.
"Frankly, at that point, I didn't really know what was going on," he said. "You just sort of collect yourself and we have three things we do in aviation; it's called aviate, navigate and communicate."
But Cooper had no way to communicate other than a handheld radio, and with his panel out, he had no way to navigate. He had to do it the "old school" way.
"I knew that the airport was near the stacks, the stacks are readily visible," he said, referring to the cooling towers at Three Mile Island. "So, you started flying sort of to the stacks, understanding they're probably not too happy that the plane is flying near a nuclear power plant."
But there was another problem: Cooper had to manually release the landing gear.
"There's a crank that - you have to lean backwards and turn it 50 times counter-clockwise, all while flying the plane with your left hand," Cooper said.
As if that was not stressful enough, Cooper had to worry about colliding with other planes in mid-air because the power outage essentially made him invisible. Once he saw the emergency lights, Cooper went in for the landing.
"Then, you're at the mercy of what's happening," he said. "The plane went along straight. You hear a lot of screeching because as you can see the propeller hit and then the belly of the plane hits. But planes are made, structurally, to withstand a belly landing."
Cooper said he kept his cool and let his 25 years of flying experience kick in. He said he could not have made such a successful landing without the help of HIA's air traffic controllers.
"They did a fantastic job clearing the air space. "As you know, there were some delays, unfortunately, and I apologize for that. Some flights had to be diverted because the runway was closed. But the tower did a great job," he said.
"I'd like to say in defense of small planes and single pilots that most land very successfully," he said. "We have a great track record."
Cooper's plane will stay at HIA for a few days so that a mechanic can figure out what went wrong and how to fix the problem.
Story, Photo and Comments/Reaction: http://www.abc27.com
A single-engine plane made a crash landing Thursday night at Harrisburg International Airport, which forced the airport’s lone runway to close for at least 45 minutes, according to an airport spokesman.
The pilot of the plane was not injured and was the only person on board, said Scott Miller, the airport spokesman.
The plane, a Beechcraft Bonanza, had an issue with its landing gear and that caused it to skid across the runway on its belly, Miller said.
The incident occurred sometime between 7 and 7:30 p.m. The runway was reopened at 8:15. The closure was necessary because the plane was blocking part of the runway and posed a safety concern.
The incident is under investigation. The pilot's identity was not immediately available.
An emergency landing forces Harrisburg International Airport in Dauphin County to close for about an hour Thursday evening. A single engine Beechcraft Bonanza declared an emergency when the pilot couldn’t get his landing gear down. The incident began at about 7:15 pm.
The pilot safely made a wheels up belly landing but the aircraft skidded off the runway before coming to a halt. The airport closed while emergency crews removed the aircraft. The pilot was not injured. Flight operations resumed at about 8:15 pm.
The name of the pilot was not released. The Federal Aviation Administration will examine the aircraft.