LUMBERTON — A Texas man experienced a rough landing as he tried to bring an airplane in at the Lumberton Regional Airport.
“After it went down we called 911. Dwayne Allen, assistant manager, has the authority to shut down the airport, and that is what we did,” said Nedward “Ned” Gaddy, airport manager and former Fairmont mayor.
Paul Witherspoon of Mt. Pleasant, Texas, was landing the small plane on Monday when a gust of wind blew the plane to the left off the runway, said Capt. Terry Parker, of the Lumberton Police Department.
Witherspoon, who was flying solo, would not comment to a reporter from The Robesonian who was at the scene of the landing mishap.
Gaddy said he was looking out the window about 2 p.m. when he saw the Piper Warrior in trouble.
“As I looked out the window, the wind kinda of blew it to the left. It missed the runway and landed in the field,” Gaddy said Tuesday. “It bounced, it was bouncing pretty hard. It landed on the grass.”
The plane hit the ground three times and bounced into the air each time, he said.
“I think it was wind that may have been a factor, or it could have been another reason. The Federal Aviation Administration will investigate,” Gaddy said. “I asked him if he was all right. He seemed more concerned about the plane. I stopped asking after that.”
Witherspoon, who was not injured, was escorted off the tarmac by Lumberton police officers, which is standard when such incidents happen, Gaddy said.
The FAA is investigating the accident, according to Kathleen Berge, an agency spokesperson.
“The National Transportation Safety Board will determine the probable cause, not the FAA,” she said. “The FAA will gather information during its investigation and will provide it to NTSB for the determination.”
According to the FAA registry, the 1967 wide wing single-engine Piper is registered to Duerr Michael of Pinedale Boulevard in Lumberton. The certificate was issued April 8, 2002, and expires June 30, 2020.
Small planes often become the victim of blustery winds, Gaddy said.
“A lot of times the wind gets under the wing. The pilot’s got to know what to do. You have to stay on your toes when you landing a plane,” he said. “I’ve been here for 42 years. We’ve been fortunate not to have to many accidents and no fatalities.”
Accidents happen, but they are far and few between, he said.
“Don’t be afraid, they got some good pilots,” Gaddy said. “You’ll be all right.”