Caught on Cam: Small Plane Makes Emergency, Wheels-Free Landing - NBC Southern California

Caught on Cam: Small Plane Makes Emergency, Wheels-Free Landing

Three people were on board when a Cessna had to make an emergency landing



    Emergency Landing "Beautiful:" Witness

    NBC 7's Matt Rascon spoke with a witness to Sunday's emergency landing at Palomar Airport who described it as a beautiful landing. No one was injured. (Published Monday, April 21, 2014)

    Three people riding a small plane suffered some frightening moments mid-air when their landing gear became stuck. 

    The Cessna 210 was flying around San Diego's North County Sunday afternoon when the pilot tried to lower the gear. But the wheels wouldn't budge. 

    Student pilot Max Fitzmaurice was flying at the same time, and he heard the pilot's frantic call into the tower. 

    According to Fitzmaurice, the distressed plane made a couple fly-bys around the Oceanside airport, hoping the gear would deploy. When it didn't, air traffic controllers gave the pilot the option to land at Montgomery Regional Airport, where there is a larger emergency response. 

    Instead, he opted to land closer to home: at the McClellan-Palomar Airport in Carlsbad.

    Fitzmaurice landed his plane just minutes before the Cessna started to descend, and the student had his smart phone camera rolling as the pilot went in for a no-wheels, emergency landing. 

    After a couple of hard bumps and some major skidding, the small aircraft came to a halt around 3 p.m.-- with no injuries to the pilot or two others on board. 

    "The guy did a great job landing. I mean, spectacular," said Fitzmaurice. 

    "You really have to keep calm, focus on your priorities and get your plane on the ground -- get your plane on the ground safely," he added. 

    He said the pilot definitely knew what he was doing.

    The airport was forced to close for at least two hours while the plane was towed from the runway. 

    According to Fitzmaurice, fire crews responded quickly and arrived before the nail-biting landing, just in case anything went wrong.