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Plane Makes Emergency Landing

September 21, 1991

ROMULUS, Mich. (AP) _ The left landing gear jammed on a Continental Airlines jet, forcing the pilot to make an emergency landing that nearly sheared off the entire left wing.

None of the 127 passengers and seven crew members was injured. The Boeing 727 skidded to a safe landing Friday evening on a runway coated with fire- retardant foam at Detroit Metropolitan Airport.

″The pilot did a hell of a job,″ said Mort Edelstein, a Federal Aviation Administration spokesman. ″They’re all trained to do these things, but you never know. It’s just a good safe landing.″

The pilot, Capt. Jerry L. Hardesty, said he ″did what I was supposed to do.″

″I’m no hero,″ said Hardesty, who has flown for Continental 25 years and logged 40,000 hours. He celebrated his 57th birthday Friday.

Shortly after the Denver-bound Flight 197 took off from the Detroit airport, Hardesty radioed the tower that the left rear wheel landing gear was stuck, said Michael Duggan, Wayne County deputy executive.

Hardesty called the aircraft’s manufacturer, Boeing Co. of Seattle, to try to find ways to free the landing gear. ″After exhausting every effort we decided to try to land the plane″ with just its right landing gear and nose gear extended, he said.

The plane circled for two hours to burn off excess fuel before Hardesty eased it down at 6:45 p.m. EDT, first on its right side and then its disabled left side. The impact nearly sheared off the entire left wing.

″I looked up because my head was in my knees and I saw sparks,″ said a passenger, John Doria of Wixom. ″We were right over the wings so we had a good view.″

Foam was sprayed on the wing, and passengers exited down the rear stairs. There was no fire.

″We just did everything they told us to do,″ said Dave Provan of Sun City, Ariz. ″The pilot was great. It was a smooth, almost normal landing.″

Continental, the FAA and the National Transportation and Safety Board are investigating the incident.

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