Local News

Pilot makes emergency landing in Sanford

Posted December 4, 2008 1:57 p.m. EST
Updated December 4, 2008 10:05 p.m. EST

— 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.