The initial emergency call sounded ominous – ‘small plane expecting to crash land at the Mesquite Municipal Airport.’
But as it turned out, the skillful pilot safely landed without much damage to himself or his experimental aircraft.
Fred Sorensen from Scenic, AZ was flying a 2000 Rans S-6 ES two seater airplane Wednesday afternoon when he lost one of three wheels.
“I think the wheel got knocked off the first time I tried to land. I felt something odd so I went back up in the air,” Sorensen told the Mesquite Citizen Journal.
Skydivers standing on the ground noticed Sorensen was missing the right wheel on his small aircraft and began hollering at him. “I was flying pretty slow and low to the ground,” he said.
Sorensen who has been flying since 1978 shut the engine off and attempted another landing. “I tilted the airplane to the left and just came in very slowly. As I landed the plane swirled to the right and stopped.”
Larry Lemieux, Airport Manager, said Sorensen was only going about 20 to 30 miles per hour when he touched down.
In the meantime, fire crews and para-rescue units from Mesquite Fire & Rescue and units from the Mesquite Police Department raced to the airport not knowing what to expect.
When Sorensen finally landed, the skydivers and other airport personnel lifted the wing off the ground. Lemieux positioned his golf cart under the right wing. Together they all wheeled the small aircraft up to a hangar. A simple desk chair was placed under the body of the airplane to keep it balanced.
“I feel so damned embarrassed,” Sorensen said as he reflected back on the near tragedy. He was not hurt but the plane suffered “about $400 to $500 in damage,” he remarked.