There’s lucky and there’s good. This guy is both. And the plane appears not to have a scratch on it. Joshua Saunders, who along with his wife run a flight school in Narrabeen, Australia, a suburb north of Sydney, was flying with his wife and infant son when, for unknown reasons, the engine on the Tecnam P2008 he was flying quit. The area is very densely populated, but since it’s late fall in Southern Hemisphere Oz, it was chilly-ish and the beach was sparsely peopled.
So, Saunders, a seven-year pilot but already an experienced CFI, had nearly the whole of the shoehorned but plenty long-enough South Narrabeen Beach to make the landing. Except for that one person walking ahead of the landing path of the plane. Then again, it’s hard to blame them. Even if they weren’t rocking out on the Walkmate to a mix tape of Crowded House, the Bee Gees and Men At Work, the crash of the surf would have near-a-been loud enough to drown out the noise of a gliding light plane coming in from behind. Had it been an actual runway, or even a hard packed beach, it might have been an issue. and Saunders might have had to swerve to miss the pedestrian, but as so happened, the sand was soft enough that the landing roll was miniscule.
The story by local news station Channel 7 is very well, done, short and to the point with few missteps. Great work! It even includes a rare bit of coverage on how they got the plane off the beach. See if you can guess before you watch, but if your guess includes ping pong balls or Skycrane helicopters, you’re way off. And the plane? It appeared to be as safe in the forced landing as the family aboard it. The Australian Aviation authority is investigating what caused the engine to fail.