Friday, August 19, 2016

Bellanca 17-30A Viking, N9525E: Incident occurred August 19, 2016 at Philip Billard Municipal Airport (KTOP), Topeka, Shawnee County, Kansas

FAA Flight Standards District Office: FAA Wichita FSDO-64

Date: 19-AUG-16
Time: 19:15:00Z
Regis#: N9525E
Aircraft Make: BELLANCA
Aircraft Model: 1730
Event Type: Incident
Highest Injury: None
Damage: Unknown
Flight Phase: LANDING (LDG)
State: Kansas


A single-engine plane made emergency landing Friday afternoon at Phillip Billard Municipal Airport in northeast Topeka.

Emergency crews were called to the airport after the pilot contacted air traffic controllers to report that the plane’s front gear may not be locking. AMR and fire crews from Topeka Fire Department and Forbes Field Airport responded to the scene while the plane circled for at least an hour. Topeka police and the Kansas Highway Patrol blocked off the area around the airport.

Around 2:15 p.m., the plane landed behind a hanger on Runway 18 without its front wheel down. A loud scraping noise could be heard as the plane’s front end skidded across the runway. The plane sustained little visible damage and the pilot looked to be uninjured as he exited the aircraft 

Billard is located on the outskirts of the Oakland area. There are several homes near the airport.

Story and video:

A plane leans on its nose as crews investigate after its front wheel failed to lock into place upon landing, causing it to slide to a stop Friday afternoon at Philip Billard Municipal Airport.

After nearly two hours circling the sky above Topeka, a single-engine plane with a damaged front wheel landed safely Friday at Philip Billard Municipal Airport.

The blue-and-white plane touched down on its main back wheels, then tilted forward, loudly scraping its nose down the runway for several yards. The landing at 2:15 p.m. came two hours after emergency personnel were called to the airport on a report of a potential crash landing.

No one was injured in the landing.

After the plane landed, emergency personnel and people in civilian clothes walked around the crashed plane.

While the plane was still in the air, Eric Johnson, director of the Metropolitan Topeka Airport Authority, said the plane was a single-engine Bellanca with damage to its nose wheel. The plane circled while depleting fuel in advance of the landing. Occasionally, the plane would make a series of low passes over the runway. During that time the pilot and others researched possible ways to force the nose wheel down from inside the cockpit.

While the damaged plane was circling, at least four other planes, including a small passenger aircraft and a crop duster, were able to land and take off. In the meantime, a group of people gathered where the Topeka Police Department had blocked access to the airport runway. Some of the bystanders were pilots.

After the plane landed, all three of the engine’s propellers were clearly bent and scarred. Johnson said the damage wasn’t catastrophic, and this type of landing happens from time to time.

“This is really a best-case scenario,” Johnson said of the landing.

Based on the tail number, the plane is a 1976 Bellanca 17-30A with four seats.

A row of fire trucks, including equipment from the Air National Guard, lined a runway at the airport while the plane made passes overhead. More than a dozen Topeka Fire Department firefighters were on hand with personnel from American Medical Response and airport police. Having multiple agencies in place even for a small aircraft is protocol, airport police and fire department chief J.T. O’Grady said.

“That’s why we train together,” he said adding that the operation went smoothly. “Planes can be replaced; people can’t.”

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