Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Beech Staggerwing, CF-BJD : Incident occurred March 10, 2015 at Abbotsford Airport, British Columbia, Canada

The pilot who belly-landed a rare 77-year-old biplane without landing gear at the Abbotsford Airport says his Royal Canadian Air Force training kicked in to save the lives of two people aboard.

George Kirbyson told CTV News that he didn’t have time to be afraid as he belly-landed the restored vintage Beech Staggerwing Biplane on Tuesday night.

“I can’t say I was scared. I just had to fly the airplane and that takes most of my concentration. No time to get scared,” he said.

Kirbyson was flying with one passenger above Abbotsford, testing out the restored airplane, which was built in 1938.

The plane is one of only seven such craft in Canada. It is now registered to West Vancouverite James Britton, who restored it to flying condition.

Despite the work, something went wrong with the landing gear while they plane flew over Abbotsford Tuesday night and the wheels wouldn’t come down.

“That put us in a precarious position,” said Kirbyson. “At that point we were trying to figure it out. Alternate methods, emergency methods, anything we could think of.”

Nothing worked – so the plane radioed the Abbotsford Airport, which called in first responders and pointed them to a grassy runway as the softest place to touch down.

“This was an old turf runway we used for gliders back in the day,” said Parm Sidhu. “There’s a prior history of using this.”

Kirbyson circled the airport to use up the fuel, and then nosed his plane downwards to land.

“Once it touches down, not a lot of control left. Just hold on and go for a ride,” he said.

“It was tremendously smooth. I couldn’t believe it myself. We touched down I knew we were on the ground because it was shaking, it felt like a square tire on a minus forty day in the prairies. The nose dropped fairly rapidly and dug in and that was a shock there,” he said.

There were no fuel leaks or fires, and they got out to see the paramedics. No one was hurt. The hardest part for the two people aboard was seeing the damage to the plane: scratches as well as bumps to the nose and hull.
“We’ll get it going again,” Kirbyson said.

Mechanics say after 77 years – and a hard landing – they can get it flying within a year.

Story, comments, video and photo:

A Beechcraft Staggerwing was forced to make an emergency landing at the Abbotsford Airport at about 6 p.m. on Tuesday, March 10th.

About 30 minutes before the landing, the aircraft with two people on board notified the airport that the plane’s landing gear was not coming down.

The 70-year-old-plane circled the airport twice before making a safe landing on a grassy area.

The aircraft landed on its belly, and the two occupants were not injured.

As a precautionary measure, BC Ambulance, the airport crash team, Abbotsford Fire Rescue Service and Abbotsford Police were on the scene.

Original article can be found at:

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