Plane Lands Safely After Striking Dog During Takeoff
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) _ A twin-engine plane, damaged when it struck a dog during takeoff, made a safe belly landing Friday night 21/2 hours later.
The four people aboard emerged from the foam-doused Piper Lancer PA-32 unharmed.
″Maybe I’ll be scared tomorrow,″ said passenger Robert Hendrix, 40, of Lexington.
The plane, with a damaged wheel and slightly damaged wing, landed on its belly about 10:35 p.m. and skidded to the side of the runway, sending sparks flying.
The passengers were evacuated and emergency crews rushed to the plane and covered it with foam.
″It was absolutely beautiful,″ said Columbia Metropolitan Airport Director Bob Waddle, who applauded when the plane landed. ″A very successful emergency landing. The pilot did an excellent job.″
Airport officials began preparing for the emergency landing after the plane radioed it had struck a German shepherd during takeoff from the airport about 8:15 p.m., said airport police Lt. Ed Parker.
The dog was killed.
The plane circled the airport while authorities tried to determine the damage and the best way to bring it down.
While the plane circled the airport, emergency vehicles raced along the runway to inspect the plane as it made a low pass, and a helicopter was dispatched to inspect the plane for damage, Parker said.
Hendrix, his 10-year-old son, Jonathon, daughter Chelsea, 7, and pilot Doug Frank were on their way to Greenville for a horse show.
″When we first took off we saw a big dog,″ Hendrix said. ″We could see the wheel flopping behind the plane. I was just mainly afraid because I had the two children.″
His daughter added, ″I thought they were going to tell Daddy that we were going to crash.″
The plane made several low passes before it attempted the belly landing. Waddle said he did not believe the plane was seriously damaged.