BEAUMONT - Wendy Powell was aboard her family's single-engine airplane with her eight-year-old grandson Saturday evening, when her husband, David Powell, a Beaumont anesthesiologist, safely landed the aircraft with no landing gear.
The gear did not come down – so her husband had to land the plane on its belly.
"I could see the runway and we're just like you know, 300 feet from the hitting the runway with no landing gear,” said Powell. “One thought that went through my head is...okay…this could be it."
The FAA determined the malfunction an accident but continues to investigate the incident at the Jack Brooks Regional Airport.
The Powell family hasn't found out exactly what caused the problem, and though they want to know what happened, they're just happy they returned home with no injuries.
"I just had this peace,” said Wendy Powell about her emotions before the landing. She said to herself, “God you're in control and we're all going to be okay."
She credits her family's miracle landing to a power from above.
Her family was returning from a vacation in Colorado and neared the airport, when her husband tried to release landing gear twice and even pulled an emergency lever to release it – with no success.
They scrambled for help, even calling their close friend, who happens to be the plane's mechanic, for advice. Unfortunately, even with the mechanic's help, the gear was not working.
After circling for 30 minutes, her husband David decided to land the aircraft on its belly as Wendy said she prepared for the worst.
"I took my grandson's hands who was crying and (saying) "are we gonna die, are we gonna die?” said Powell. “You know he's just petrified and I just took his hands and said you know what? We're going to pray. And I just asked God to put his hands around our plane and keep us all safe."
Metal screeched during a rough landing. A propeller blade and the plane's belly were damaged, but her family escaped in one piece.
“The first thing going through my head is 'we're alive!" said Powell.
She calls her husband her husband a hero.
"After the fact he's like, I just knew I had to make the best landing that I've ever made in my whole life,” said Powell. “And he did it."
The family's insurance company will repair the plane and the Powell's said this won't hold them back from flying again.
They'll fly commercially to Mexico later this month for a medical mission trip.
Aircraft Make: PIPER
Aircraft Model: PA46
Event Type: Accident
Highest Injury: None
Flight Phase: LANDING (LDG)
AIRCRAFT LANDED GEAR UP. BEAUMONT, TX