August 1, 2008

Family Uninjured As Plane Lands Without Landing Gear

By Eric Anderson, Albany Times Union, N.Y.

Aug. 1--COLONIE -- A family of four en route from Piseco Lake in the Adirondacks to Cherry Hill, N.J., was shaken but not seriously hurt this afternoon after their single-engine plane made an emergency landing at Albany International Airport after losing part of its landing gear.

The aircraft, a single-engine, four-passenger Cherokee 180 with a fixed landing gear that doesn't retract, began losing its left main gear after takeoff from the Piseco Lake airport.

An eyewitness who is also a pilot and saw the takeoff rushed to the airport to talk with the pilot, who by then had circled back from Piseco Lake.

"The rear left gear broke loose and was flapping," the eyewitness said. It also was making quite a bit of noise before it broke free of the aircraft.

The plane was piloted by James Stephans of Cherry Hill, N.J., who was vacationing with his wife and their 7-year-old son and 11-year-old daughter at Indian Lake.

The gear fell off in woods near the Piseco Lake airport and the eyewitness suggested the plane land at Albany instead, where more emergency help would be available.

Air traffic controllers directed the plane to Albany. As the plane approached, the Albany control tower notified emergency crews at 2:13 p.m. and the plane touched down at 2:23 p.m.

Albany airport spokesman Doug Myers said the aircraft approached over the Latham Circle and landed on the runway, traveling 800 feet before sliding off and spinning around on the left side and into the grass.The family quickly got out of the plane. No fuel spilled and the aircraft, which was rented and dates to the 1970s, sustained only minor damage.

The airport was closed as a precaution for about 10 minutes after the mishap.

Myers said the pilot was "extremely experienced. He kept the left wing in the air as long as he could" after the plane landed.


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