News Plane incidents — 02 November 2017

Bob Christopher was flying to Las Vegas Monday morning when his Cessna’s engine began to sputter.

The Clovis man contacted the Fresno Air Traffic Control who advised him to make an emergency landing at Visalia Municipal Airport.

Deputy City Manager Mario Cifuentez received the call just after 9:30 a.m. and raced down Highway 198 to get to the airport.

“Right after I got off the phone with Fresno approach, I called 911 and gave them the details,” Cifuentez said. “Fire, police and emergency ambulance responded.”

Whenever there is an emergency landing, resources are pulled from across the city. Depending on the time fire crews are away from their station, neighboring fire crews may be called in to cover a city.

Christopher circled the airport while first responders arrived on scene. He was able to make a safe landing just after 10 a.m.

First responders made contact with Christopher to make sure he was safe. After seeing he was unharmed, they cleared the scene.

The longtime pilot said that airport staff handled the situation like, “professionals.”

Christopher was left with an engine that needed work and Las Vegas was waiting for him.

Chris Munoz, Aircraft Mechanical Services, said when pilots have emergency landings it’s up to the pilot whether they want Visalia mechanics to look at the aircraft or call in someone else.

Christopher opted to have AMS staff make the needed repairs so he could get back in the air.

“Not everyone can work on planes,” Christopher said. “These guys know what they’re doing.”

Even if the plane isn’t able to fly today, Christopher said he still plans on making his trip to Vegas.

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