Deputy's Father Watches as Son Guides Distressed Pilot to Safe Landing

The pilot of a malfunctioning single-engine Cessna landed the plane safely on its belly after enlisting the help of a Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy, whose father watched as his son guided a fellow pilot to safety.

Flying solo, a pilot -- in his 80s -- sent out the distress call after his plane’s landing gear began malfunctioning.

“It was just the fact that he was by himself,” said LA County Sheriff’s Deputy Yoav Shalev, a pilot with 15 years of experience and a flight instructor at Van Nuys Airport.

“It’s very comforting to know that hey -- now there's somebody by me actually checking to see what I'm doing, verifying everything."

Shalev took his father flying Saturday afternoon in his single-engine Grunman American Tiger plane when they both heard the distress call.

Shalev’s father, Amnon Shalev, shot video of his son in action as he advised the senior pilot on a safe landing.

“I was not worried because he sounds to me a very experienced pilot,” Shalev Sr. said. “He was very calm, and seemed to have done it a lot in his life.”


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Shalev talked the pilot of the malfunctioning plane through a safe landing. He watched the pilot from his own aircraft, advising him over the radio.

Shalev told the pilot to bank the plane, hoping to shake the landing gear into place.

“We were hoping by making the landing gear heavier, it would actually slide into position,” Shalev said. “But it just ended up dangling.”

After communicating with the control tower at Van Nuys airport, the controllers gave the pilot the OK to land. Afraid of damaging the runway and his plane, the pilot decided to land on the plane's belly.

"He came down and made a picture perfect landing," Shalev said.

The pilot did not suffer any injuries in the belly landing, according to Shalev.

NBC4’s Ted Chen contributed to this report.  

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