Story By: Victoria Lyndon, Sub-Editor: Joseph Golder, Agency: Central European News
This pilot has told how he stayed calm when his engine failed at 2,500 feet and guided the plane safely back to Earth – and he claims he is looking forward to flying the aircraft again.
The incident came three minutes after German pilot Peter Flume, 54, had taken off from Zurich Airport in Switzerland in his Beechcraft Bonanza plane on 11th October.
The pilot had reached an altitude of 2,500 feet when he heard a loud bang and he immediately recognised he needed to return to the airport.
He gave the “mayday” distress signal to the Skyguide air traffic control tower and says it then “suddenly became very quiet,” adding: “I knew I had to somehow sail back to the airport to land there.”
Flume, who has been flying for 17 years and says he had mentally prepared for the situation, said: “I did not have time to panic. I was concentrating hard and focused on doing everything right…I realised: now it’s serious.”
He managed to guide his plane back towards the runway, where fire engines and ambulances were waiting, saying: “Skyguide had made sure that the runway was clear for my landing. I was fully focused on bringing my plane safely to the ground.”
The pilot says he was “very lucky” to land the plane gently on the runway without the use of his engine.
During the failure of the engine and the landing approach, Flume’s pulse did not rise above 86 bpm according to his heart rate monitor which he checked after the incident.
However, he revealed “when I opened the bonnet of my plane, my pulse shot up.” According to his watch, it was over 100 bpm. “I saw that the engine was completely broken,” says Flume. He can only speculate that “a crack in the crankshaft could have led to damage.”
Flume called his wife, who is also a pilot and was in Stuttgart on the Friday evening.
He says: “I told her what had happened and asked if she could pick me up by car.”
He had to leave his plane behind in Zurich because the Swiss Safety Investigation Office (SUST) has to analyse it for the investigation of the incident.
Flume is eagerly awaiting the return of his Beechcraft Bonanza. “I have already ordered a new engine. If everything goes as expected, my plane will be ready to fly again in December.”
He says he is not put off from flying again, adding: “The incident has shown me that my flight training, my education and my ongoing engagement with difficult situations have paid off – and that I can apply what I’ve learned in an emergency.”
The German is also not concerned at the thought of getting back into his 29-year-old plane, saying: “It will certainly be a special moment and a certain amount of tension will be there. But I love flying and am happy to be back in my machine.”
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