Glenorchy pilot’s flippin’ rough landing

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A long-time Glenorchy farmer says he and his passenger were uninjured when his light plane nose-flipped on landing last week. 

Geoff Thomson – who reported the incident to the Civil Aviation Authority – was landing his Cessna 182 on his Mt Earnslaw Station farm when it was caught in a sudden gust of wind. 

“She was a bit close to the ground so we couldn’t do much so she bounced and just rolled over on her back,” he says. 

Asked if he was shaken up, Thomson replies: “It’s not comfortable. 

“It’s just one of those unfortunate bumps you don’t want. We’re fine – it’s just annoying.” 

Thomson says his Cessna, which he’s owned for almost 10 years, acts like a farm machine. 

“We just go around and check the valleys, you see what the tracks are like.” 

Thomson likens the incident to sliding a car on black ice: “Sometimes once you start a bit of a slide in a car, you don’t stop. 

“Or something bumps down in a plane – you just hit the ground a bit harder than you want. 

“You hope that you don’t get too many of those in your career.” 

Thomson doesn’t know how long his plane, which spent several days upended on his paddock before it was taken away for assessment, will be out of action. 

“Once you bump planes you tend to get quite a lot of damage just because you’re putting forces onto different parts of the plane that you normally don’t, and things stretch.” 

Thomson’s Cessna was the second aircraft to come to grief on Mt Earnslaw Station last month due to an ill-timed wind gust. 

In an incident reported to CAA by local chopper company Over The Top, an unpredictable wind gust on Mt Alfred caused the rotor blade on a stationary Robinson R44 to strike the tail boom. 

The chopper was airlifted away for repairs the following day. 

Veteran local aviator Hank Sproull says wind can catch pilots unawares, regardless of the size of their craft. 

“The wind’s always your biggest bloody nemesis. There’s very few days you fly here and you don’t have wind to contend with.” 

Some days you can’t even land at Milford because it’s too gusty, he says. 

“You can’t handle it because it’s just too unpredictable.” 

Sproull says Cessna 182s like Thomson’s are “pretty sturdy aeroplanes, they’re pretty good for flying round in the mountains, that’s for sure”. 

The Air Milford owner sympathises with Thomson over his mishap: “It would really ruin your day.”