Pilot’s relief after landing scare

A small aircraft ran into trouble when a landing attempt went wrong on Friday, prompting a full emergency alert at Owen Roberts International Airport.

Veteran pilot Peter Cunningham was forced to pull out of the botched landing effort but kept his cool to bring the plane down safely on the second attempt. Mr. Cunningham said he had come in too fast and too high on the initial landing, causing the plane to “bounce” on the tarmac.

In an effort to avoid an accident, he hit the throttle, flew around again and landed smoothly on the second try.

Staff in the control tower asked him to do a “fly-by” amid concerns that a tyre may have burst. The concerns proved unfounded and he was able to land.

“It was just one of those things that happens,” he said of the incident. “It was my own fault. When you’re making a landing you don’t rush, you focus and you take your time and I will certainly do that in the future. The second landing was perfect.”

Even as the plane bounced on the tarmac, Mr. Cunningham, 72, says he and his passenger were not panicking.

“There is no point in getting worried about things,” he said. “One of the things they teach you, when you get into difficulties is to stay cool. If you don’t, that is when things can go wrong. You just focus on what you have got to do and work through the process.”

Mr. Cunningham, who was flying in from Little Cayman just after 1pm on Friday, thanked the staff at the control tower and the emergency services for their “excellent response”.

He said: “The tower was wonderful. The reaction from everybody was really superb. If there had been an accident they were absolutely right there.”

Bounce landings, sometimes known as porpoising, are not uncommon for small aircraft. But they can cause problems if the pilot does not react properly.

Caren Thompson-Palacio, of the Cayman Islands Airports Authority, confirmed that a “full emergency” response had been ordered at 1.18pm on Friday.

She added: “The airports authority can confirm that the event ended without injury and as per normal operating procedure the event is undergoing an internal investigation.”

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