A close call

David Whalen
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Seniors walk away from crash landing

Gerry Duffitts single-engine Cessna 182 crash-landed near Clarenville late Wednesday. Photo by Transcontinental Media

Two men survived a single-engine plane crash in a wooded area near the Clarenville airstrip Wednesday night.

Pilot Gerry Duffitt and passenger Eric Adey both from Clarenville were not seriously injured and were able to walk away from the crash.

Duffitt didnt even sound fazed by the ordeal.

They say every landing you walk away from is a good landing, he said.

Duffitt, 77, and Adey, 78, left Pasadena at 5:30 p.m. in Duffitts amphibious Cessna 182, bound for Clarenville.

The plane was near its destination around 7:30 p.m.

Duffitt planned to land on the water, but a landing gear problem meant he didnt get confirmation that his wheels were locked in.

I didnt know if the wheels were down, partially down, or what, he said.

Lowered wheels could have wreaked havoc with a water landing, so Duffitt decided to land on the airstrip.

As they began their descent and were about 500 feet in the air, the planes engine cut out.

Something must have let go. I dont know what happened, Duffitt said.

When the engine stops, the first reflex youve got is to pull the stick back, which I did and brought the nose up. Then (the plane) started into a stall, and if the stall had continued it would go straight into the ground nose-first. So then I had to push the stick ahead and get a speed buildup so I could control it again. And then the only thing I had in front of me was trees, and thats where she went.

Duffitt says the plane shook as it made its way through the woods before eventually hitting a rock. The planes fuselage cracked in half,

but the passenger compartment remained intact.

After the plane hit the ground, Duffitt and Adey managed to climb out.

Fortunately, Duffitt had a good idea of where they were and walked about 2 1/2 miles back to the airstrip, where he had parked his car prior to leaving for Pasadena.

Adey decided he wasnt up to the walk and stayed with the plane.

Locator activated

The RCMP were notified of the crash after the planes emergency locator transmitter was activated upon hitting the ground.

A search and rescue helicopter arrived at about 8:30 p.m. and a ground crew brought Adey out from the crash site.

Both he and Duffitt were admitted to hospital where Adey had cuts on his arm stitched.

Duffitt was unscathed, and both were released late Wednesday night.

RCMP Sgt. Rick Robinson says Duffitts flying experience contributed to the relatively safe landing. Duffitt has been flying since the 1960s and this was his 10th plane.

I bought it about a month ago, and its in real good shape or was in real good shape, Duffitt said.

Its in three pieces now.

Robinson added that the low altitude of the plane. combined with the resistance effect of the forest canopy. likely kept the plane from building up too much velocity before hitting the ground.

Duffitt says his family was relieved to find out he was OK.

They want to know how many lives Ive got left, he said.

Duffitt said he would have been back flying Thursday if he didnt have to look after the wreckage of the now written-off plane.

Another plane

He has another single-engine plane which he built himself.

Ive got that one just about ready to fly. I couldnt today because I was too busy trying to get the other one out of the woods, but I want to go flying (Friday), Duffitt said Thursday.

You dont want to let too much time go by, because the longer you stay away from it you may have a problem getting back at it.

So they tell me.


Organizations: RCMP

Geographic location: Clarenville, Pasadena

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