Air Travel

Private Plane Makes an Emergency Landing in Cataño, Puerto Rico

Pilot barely missing power lines

While it seems that private plane emergency landings are frequent, one which happened last week in Puerto Rico is worth mentioning.

Why?

This one was just like taken out of a scene of a James Bond movie. The twist here is that it wasn’t a Hollywood script, and the emergency was real.

Furthermore, the pilot is lucky to be alive!

private plane emergency landing catano puerto rico
After the emergency landing. Courtesy of Photographer Carlos Rivera Giusti for the newspaper EL VOCERO, Puerto Rico

Private plane emergency landing location

Last Week there was an apparent emergency on the Puerto Rico Highway 165 (PR-165). The location is where the federal prison is located in Guaynabo. After the street light from the prison, the incident happened by one of the entrances to the port of Puerto Nuevo. Puerto Nevo is the cargo area of the Bay of San Juan.

What happened?

During a live interview with local reporter Eliezer Ramos, Pablo Rodriguez’s (the pilot of the aircraft) stated that he had mechanical problems.

Disclaimer: The interview was entirely in Spanish.

Pilot Rodriguez said he was around Punta Salinas when the mechanical problems started.

private plane emergency landing catano satellite map
The purple pin (upper left) marks the location where the engine problem started

Around the energy plant of PREPA (what we, natives, call Palo Seco) the airplane engine quit. That, in turn, made the aircraft (for those who understand aerodynamics) a glider.

Or, for those who don’t understand the principles of flight, the airplane became a flying brick!

Trying to make an emergency landing at the airport Luis Ribas Dominicci East of Old San Juan (SIG) the nightmare for this pilot truly began.

There wasn’t enough altitude to make a 180 to the airfield, as it was too far away.

Contemplating the emergency landing situation

With no engine power left, the pilot immediately knew that his aircraft would not get to the airport.

Pilot Rodriguez knew that time was now of the essence for a safe and successful solution to the situation.

Flying at low altitude, very close to the ground he knew if he wanted to survive, then he needed to settle down somewhere.

But he did not want to perform the emergency landing in the bay.

The next step was to attempt to glide the plane onto the PR-165.

private plane emergency landing catano PR
The purple pin shows where the emergency landing took place. PR-165 runs in an east-west direction below the purple pin

A successful emergency approach, landing, and touchdown

He credits his training and maneuvering to his instructor David Ocasio in making what he did possible.

The live interviewer Eliezer Ramos noticed the nosegear oil-covered Cessna. The oil was probably from the motor.

Mr. Rodriguez, the pilot responded:

“I’m just the pilot. I wouldn’t know what happened there and you’ll probably want to ask an aircraft mechanic.”

A very, very lucky outcome

Why was this landing so special?

That picture of the power line and the power pole (below) is a good illustration as to how this emergency landing could have easily become a tragedy with the loss of life!

emergency landing cessna catano powerlines
Power lines and poles were missed by a hair

The pole or the overhead wires had no indication of structural damage.

All that matters end well, with no one hurt

I’m glad that the pilot was alive to tell his story. Pretty sure the NTSB (the authority in charge for any accidents or crashes) along with the FAA will investigate this matter.

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