Pilot, son have hard landing
June 17, 2002
A Snowmass Village man crash-landed his small plane at the Aspen airport Friday afternoon after the plane’s landing gear malfunctioned.
Herman Anderson had just taken off in his 1961 Beachcraft Bonanza on a trip to Lake Powell, Utah, when he realized the front wheel would not retract. Anderson’s 8-year-old son, Stevie, was also in the plane.
“Stevie slept through the whole thing until I woke him up for the final descent,” Anderson said. “I just told him I would have to crash the plane.”
Although he did technically crash-land the plane, it was a planned landing on the runway at Sardy Field. A pilot since 1990, Anderson had radioed the control tower to let them know of his problem.
No one was injured in the landing.
After circling Aspen once and allowing the rear wheels to touch the runway before taking off again, Anderson landed his plane as slowly as possible. As expected, the front wheel collapsed on impact, and the plane skidded several hundred feet to a stop.
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Stevie said the scraping sounded like “a garbage disposal cutting up a spoon.” His friend, Chris Chi, 8, watched the landing and said he watched his friend from elementary school walk away from the plane after the door popped open.
“First it was kind of fun, then it was scary, but then it was fun again,” Stevie said of the landing.
Emergency crews were on the ground at the airport in case the landing did not go smoothly. But Anderson said the damage to his plane is minimal, including a shattered nose light.
“Certainly we’re relieved – we’re always pleased when incidents turn out well and people walk away safe,” said Airport Director Jim Elwood. “I’m sure his plane will be up and flying again in short order. The pilot really kept his composure.”
Elwood said Anderson chose to land on asphalt instead of grass alongside the runway because it is a more predictable surface.
“It’s a bummer we didn’t get to go to Lake Powell, but we’ll be flying around again when it gets fixed,” Anderson said.