Local News

Pilot makes emergency landing in Sanford

Posted December 4, 2008

— Believe it or not, Ripley the dog and his pilot owner were unhurt Thursday after skidding to a stop in an emergency landing in Sanford.

Clinton E. Bryan, of Pittsboro, said he was flying to New Bern when he realized there was a problem with the landing gear of his single-engine Cessna 210, so he turned around and headed back to the Sanford-Lee County Regional Airport.

A veteran pilot of 35 years, Bryan said he circled the airport for about three hours to burn off most of his fuel before attempting a landing shortly before noon.

The plane glided in and skidded on its belly a short distance along the runway. After the plane stopped, the door popped open, and Ripley bounded out and ran around the aircraft.

Bryan, a Pittsboro town commissioner, then climbed out and was greeted by airport personnel and firefighters who had been called to the airport in case the landing didn't go so well.

"Actually, it was fairly smooth," he said of his landing. "I opened the door. The dog shoots out, and I climb out and I was glad to see nothing was on fire."

He said he didn't realize how serious the situation was until he got a cell phone call about 10 minutes after he landed.

"The girl who cuts my hair gave me a call, and she said, 'Clint, I just saw about a small plane landed at Sanford, and I got to looking and it was you,'" he said.

Bryan said he wasn't scared during the landing, but he was worried about the plane because he didn't know what was wrong with it.

"You try to mentally prepare yourself for these things. Of course, you're never prepared until you actually have to," he said.

Ripley, who often accompanies Bryan on flights, also wasn't scared because he never knew anything was wrong, Bryan said.

"He's a good passenger. He didn't know any better," Bryan said.

Federal Aviation Administration investigators arrived at the airport Thursday afternoon to begin reviewing the incident. They hoisted the plane with a crane but still struggled to move the landing gears in and out.

The Cessna 210 is registered to a company called Centurion in New Bern. Bryan referred to it as a company plane, declining to be more specific. The company's annual report to the Secretary of State's office last month lists it as doing "aircraft ownership and maintenance."

Bryan said he and Ripley plan to continue flying. "You have to keep doing it," he said.


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  • jse830fcnawa030klgmvnnaw+ Dec 5, 2008

    Why is this news???? The private pilot's training must including emergency situations, including gear up or malfunction situations.

  • canfinson1 Dec 5, 2008

    At first, watching the video was hard. Clint and Ripley are very beloved members of our New Bern family. I believe that a very special angel was riding those wings to insure a safe landing and a happy outcome. We are all happy that they are ok.

  • Kingfish Dec 4, 2008

    Clint said he shut it off at about 250 feet. After talking with the airport by radio, they decided that the prop would stop spinning before he touched down. Obviously they were not correct. I don't doubt that you're an accomplished pilot, Golden, but Clint was IN the plane, and HE shut it down to try and prevent engine damage.

  • anonemoose Dec 4, 2008

    Rip flies, boats and next he will motorcycle.

  • GoldenLover Dec 4, 2008

    There's no way that engine was shut off. The prop was spinning much too fast. I've flown for 25 years and know what I'm looking at.

  • nandud Dec 4, 2008

    What an amazing job Clint did. Obviously he was thinking about his beloved dog when he landed since he opened the door and let Rip out immediately.

    Good job, man. That was pretty impressive. It could have been a lot worse.

  • wrrgirl Dec 4, 2008

    So nice to hear GOOD news about an emergency landing! Glad they're ok.

  • afairlane500 Dec 4, 2008

    I guess Dog is his co-pilot.

  • Kingfish Dec 4, 2008

    Goldenlvr, Clint had the engine shut off, but the prop continued to spin which is why it contacted the runway. Rip didn't look like he was too upset by the whole thing. Rip is an accomplished co-pilot. He loves to ride the boat, too.

  • GoldenLover Dec 4, 2008

    Going to be expensive. The skin is no big deal, but if you watch the Sky 5 video, you'll notice that the spinning prop hit the ground. Which means a complete tear down & inspection-$$$$$$ Big time bucks. Very glad he's safe. What I would have done- When in safe gliding dist. to runway- throttle to idle, mixture to complete lean robbing the carb of fuel. Fuel selector to off. Then bump the starter to level the prop so it won't contact the runway. Then ignition off, master switch off. Then it's not that much different from a normal landing other than flaring a little lower. Then when you contact the pavement your only steering is the rudder and the slower you get the less effective it will be. But it's easy to be an armchair pilot. I am a real one too though.