17-year-old Student Pilot Makes Successful Emergency Landing After Losing Wheel During Takeoff (Video)
At Massachusetts' Beverly Regional Airport, 17-year-old Maggie Taraska successfully completed an emergency landing after her plane lost a wheel during takeoff. According to ABC News, this was Taraska's first solo cross-country flight.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reported that the Piper PA28 aircraft lost its right main wheel assembly after 5 p.m. on Sunday evening. Taraska, a student pilot who has been flying for three years, flew around in circles and landed the fixed-wing, single-engine plane around 5:50 p.m.
Gloria Bouillon, the airport's manager, told the Boston Globe that the plane was significantly damaged after landing on the runway and skidding off into the grass. Luckily, Taraska did not suffer any injuries.
"I got really scared, nervous, obviously," she told ABC News. "I had done emergency procedures before, but you don't do them if you lose a wheel."
Taraska was only minutes into her trip to Portland, Maine when a pilot on the ground watched the wheel fall off the plane. The pilot contacted the control tower, who then notified Taraska of the issue.
The 17-year-old plans to attend the U.S. Air Force Academy and said she needed to be confident in her ability if she wanted to be a pilot. "I knew that I had practiced emergency procedures plenty of times and I knew that if I tried my best and I kept a cool head, there would be the best outcome possible," she said at a press conference.
Taraska's instructor, John Singleton, communicated with her via radio to help guide her through the landing. The airport was shut down to eliminate distractions, and local fire and police departments arrived at the airport to provide additional support.
"The event went as well as it could have," said Bouillon. "She did a phenomenal job in the emergency situation she was in."
"I couldn't have done it alone, without a doubt," Taraska added.
The FAA is currently investigating the incident.