Hornchurch pilot’s nerve-wracking emergency landing in farmland
A quick-thinking pilot from Hornchurch was forced to make a hair-raising emergency landing after his student’s plane got into difficulty over the Brentwood countryside - and then went on to finish his day of lessons.
Instructor Rob Allen, from Roneo Corner, was not long into a flight with 19-year-old Dev Das, when the Cessna 152 two-seater plane began to “shake like a brick in a washing machine.”
“We noticed the rpm of the engine wasn’t right and decided to head home,” said 29-year-old Rob, “but then the engine started to vibrate dramatically.
“I decided to shut down the engine, find the best glide speed, and asked Dev to look for a nice big field - preferably close to a pub!”
A steady-headed Rob, who has 2,500 hours flying experience, managed to pull off a “pretty much perfect” emergency landing in Mountnessing farmland at around 9.30am last Friday (October 21).
A police helicopter which picked up Rob’s SOS was scrambled to the scene to check the pair were unhurt.
“When you’re teaching someone to fly a big part is emergency procedure practice,” Rob said, “and that training just kicked in immediately. I remember feeling very calm.
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“When I made the mayday calls, some of the guys said I was as calm as anything.
“It wasn’t until a couple of hours later, when I sat down with a cup of tea, that I began to shake.”
But the hero pilot, who has been flying for seven years, and teaching at Stapleford Fight Centre, in Essex, for four, proved he has nerves of steel and was back up in the air that same afternoon.
“I decided that the best thing to do was get back in the saddle,” said Rob, “but I have to admit when I was teaching the emergency technique that I’d just carried out for real a few hours earlier I began to perspire.
“I think the enormity of what happened hit me!”