The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

August 22, 2013

Pilot makes safe wheels-up landing

Patrick Buchnowski
pbuchnowski@tribdem.com

JOHNSTOWN — A civilian aircraft unable to lower its front landing gear made a successful emergency landing Thursday afternoon in Cambria County.

The Beechcraft Bonanza carrying a pilot and one passenger was practicing visual flight rules over the Bedford County Airport about 12:30 p.m. Those rules mean the pilot operates the aircraft without instruments by using visual references to the ground.

“They were just out flying,” said Maj. Karen Bogdan, public affairs officer for the 171st Air Refueling Wing at Pittsburgh International Airport. “The pilot realized he was having problems with the nose gear. It would not lower.”

The pilot flew to John Murtha Johnstown-Cambria County Air­port in Richland Township because of the availability of emergency personnel, she said.

The plane landed safely with no injuries reported, but with some damage to the aircraft, Bogdan said.

Firefighters and EMS units from Richland and Windber responded.

“They lost their landing gear and wanted to circle the facility,” said Robert Heffelfinger, Richland battalion chief.

About 25 firefighters and four East Hills Ambulance units responded when the aircraft landed around 2 p.m.

“It was as safe and successful as the last time,” Heffelfinger said, recalling a March 5, 2012, wheels-up landing that also resulted in no injuries.

The 258th Air Traffic Control Squadron at the Cambria airport is under the jurisdiction of the 171st Air Refueling Wing.