Minor crash closes main Kenai runway

Posted: Wednesday, December 04, 2002

The Kenai Municipal Airport's main runway was closed for nearly an hour Tuesday afternoon when a twin-engine Cessna crashed upon landing.

Soldotna plane owner Joel Caldwell was returning with a friend from Anchorage when he noticed something wrong just before landing.

"The landing gear didn't lock," he said.

Neither occupant of the plane was injured, and Caldwell said there was only minor damage to the propellers and nose of the plane after the aircraft collapsed on its front landing gear.

Caldwell said the lock light in the cockpit that indicates that all landing gear is prepared for contact did not come on. As he approached the runway, he tried to hold off as much trouble as possible, cutting the engines and decreasing his air speed.

"We had a totally normal landing, except for the malfunction on the landing gear," he said. "I had the airplane slowed to a crawl before we came in and was able to hold the nose off the ground."

Local emergency authorities received the distress call at 3:49 p.m., according to Kenai Police reports. Assistant Kenai Fire Chief Mike Tilly said firefighters responded with Engine 5 (the airport response vehicle), an ambulance and a command vehicle.

Tilly said aside from knocking over a small sign on the side of the runway, there seemed to be no damage to the airfield.

"From our view point, it looked like he got it down with a minimal amount of damage," he said.

Airport Manager Rebecca Cronkhite said the airfield was reopened at 4:41 p.m. after sweeping down the runway and receiving a release from the National Transportation Safety Bureau.



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