A Dallas pilot escaped unharmed but had some tense moments Wednesday, Nov. 20, after a faulty landing gear forced him to make an emergency landing in his World War II-era airplane at Paulding County’s airport.
No passengers were on board the 1954 Beech A-45 airplane which sustained little damage after the emergency landing at Paulding Northwest Atlanta Airport about six miles west of downtown Dallas.
Airport director Terry Tibbitts said in a report the incident began when pilot and owner, Robert A. Garrett of Dallas “failed to get a positive indication that his retractable gear was down and locked.”
After “performing in-flight checks and determining the gear could not be placed in a known down and locked condition” Garrett requested assistance about 9:30 a.m. by radio from the airport’s fixed-base operator, which then called 911, Tibbitts said.
He said ambulances, fire trucks and law enforcement were called to the scene “just in case things went badly.”
A Paulding County Fire Department spokesman said firefighters were called about 9:53 a.m.
The plane continued circling as emergency personnel stationed themselves around the airport. Other aircraft were told the airport was closed, Tibbitts said.
“Mr. Garrett made the determination that everything was ready on the ground and announced over the radio his intentions to land on runway 31 and hold the nose off as long as possible,” the director said.
The pilot then landed the plane about 10:20 a.m. and “there was no fire and little damage to the aircraft other than the obvious prop strike, engine sudden stoppage, and minor cowl damage,” Tibbitts said.
“Mr. Garratt was unharmed, totally calm and exhibited total professionalism in handling the inflight emergency and landing,” Tibbitts said.
The landing left the nose gear collapsed, an FAA spokesperson said.
Garrett is the registered owner of the fixed-wing, single-engine plane, according to FAA records.
A land excavation company called Garrett Consulting Inc. also operates at the address on the plane’s registration, according to its website.
The FAA is leading the investigation, Paulding County Fire Department officials said.
It was not the first aircraft wreck reported at the airport in its decade-long history.
A student pilot was not injured after being unable to control a helicopter during a landing attempt in April 2010.
The helicopter fell on its side and was severely damaged, according to the National Transportation Safety Board.