BREMERTON — A pilot had to make a challenging landing June 19 at Bremerton National Airport when the nose gear of his aircraft wouldn’t come down.
The pilot ended up circling above the airport before attempting to land, according to Port of Bremerton airport manager Tim Mensonides. The airplane has three different landing gear, he said. The nose gear did not retract, while the back two did.
“When they’re doing that, they’re troubleshooting, trying to do everything to try and see, to get that gear to come down, and burning off fuel and allowing the port, emergency responders and the removal team to come up with a plan, make sure everyone’s staged and ready to respond,” Mensonides said.
Jeff Faucett, assistant chief of South Kitsap Fire and Rescue, said that when his department received the emergency call at 1:39 p.m., they dispatched the closest units throughout the district.
“While en route, we got information that the plane was a little bigger, twin-engine plane,” Faucett said. “It also had three subjects on board. We went ahead and requested additional resources.”
Faucett said they had a “large response” to the incident, which included personnel from SKFR, North Mason Regional Fire Authority, Bremerton Fire Department and Puget Sound Federal Fire Department.
“We used all of them, and the reason for that is because with an aircraft incident, we not only have the passengers but we have the flammability of the plane,” Faucett said.
On the scene, there were ultimately three fire engines, three paramedic units, one aid unit with two EMTs and chief officers, for a total of 20 personnel.
Faucett said that they requested the pilot stay in the air as long as possible so the emergency responders had time to get positioned.
“It looks like he was circling to not only give us time, but also burning off the fuel that he had,” Faucett explained. “Aviation fuel is very flammable. The pilots will, sometimes you’ll hear of large jets … they’ll actually dump their fuel before they make an emergency landing. That’s what he’s trying to do.”
After that, the pilot began to make his descent. At 2:29 p.m., Faucett said on-scene units noted the plane had landed with no injuries to the people on board.
“The pilot did a textbook job,” Mensonides said. “He couldn’t have done a better job. Put it right down the center of the runway, with minimal damage to the plane, minimal damage to the runway.”
“And the response effort was excellent as well,” he continued. “It was a great, great collaboration of the port, emergency responders and Avian Flight Center.”
Faucett said the three people on the plane walked away with no injuries.