Plane makes emergency landing in Aspen
Vail, CO Colorado
ASPEN ” Four people emerged unscathed from an aircraft Wednesday after a pilot lost a propellor and glided eight miles to an emergency landing at Aspen’s Sardy Field.
“[Pilot Barry Cox] just did a tremendous job,” said the airport’s assistant aviation director, David Ulane, who witnessed the emergency landing. “Not only did he land without a propeller, he wasn’t able to see out the front. … It’s one of the more tremendous things I’ve seen.”
Some 10 minutes after taking off from the Aspen airport, Cox’s single-engine Piper Malibu lost its propeller, and thick oil covered the windshield. Cox rturned the aircraft around to make a glide landing by navigating through the side windows, he said.
Cox and his three passengers were uninjured, and the runway was closed only momentarily while crews towed the plane off the tarmac, according to airport officials.
“It was exciting,” Cox, an Aspen resident, said hours after the incident. “This was just one of those freak things.”
Cox, whose plane left Aspen shortly before 10 a.m., was taking his daughter and her friend to the Denver International Airport. Another friend, Stan Cheo of Woody Creek, was hitching a ride to a doctor’s appointment in Denver.
While climbing at about 16,000 feet some eight miles north of the airport, engine oil spattered the windshield and Cox radioed the Aspen tower about the problem, he said.
Moments later Cox heard a loud boom.
“I didn’t know it at the time but that’s when the propeller fell off,” Cox said. “I just started gliding and I couldn’t see out the front.”
The engine was still running, but Cox had no power. Cox said he simply followed procedures he had studied and practiced during more than 30 years of flying.
“My daughter said she was scared,” Cox said. “I was just saying, ‘We’re OK, we can glide from here and make it.'”
Keeping up his speed, he knew he had just one shot at landing, so Cox steered in “high and fast,” waiting until the last minute to drop the landing gear so he wouldn’t “bleed off too much speed.”
Cox once landed a plane without a windshield, he said, but said Wednesday’s incident his was his closest call.